Eden Indigenous vaccination day to help protect Bega Valley First Nations people from COVID

Marcus Arvidson, acting CEO of Twofold Aboriginal Corporation. The organisation will be supporting the vaccination clinic in Eden. Photo supplied.
Marcus Arvidson, acting CEO of Twofold Aboriginal Corporation. The organisation will be supporting the vaccination clinic in Eden. Photo supplied.

A walk-in Indigenous vaccination day is being held in Eden on Saturday, September 25, the first stage of an initiative to ensure First Nations people in the Bega Valley are protected from COVID.

A group of Bega Valley health professionals have been working together to determine how best to provide access to vaccines, in order to prevent this important segment of the community from contracting the virus.

Clinical psychologist Monica Blayney is involved in the group, and said the initiative hopes to reach members of the indigenous community who may wish to take this up now.

"Katungul Aboriginal Corporation has been consistently vaccinating their patients for some time and we have now become aware of those who do not attend Katungul for their medical care who we need to reach," Ms Blayney said.

The vaccination day is the result of a cooperative effort between Bega Valley Medical Practice, Curalo Medical Centre and Access Medical in Eden, Katungul Aboriginal Corporation, the Southern NSW Local Health District, and Grand Pacific Health (Healthy for Life).

These organisations will have volunteers present on the day and Aboriginal health workers will be present for support and education, especially for any in the First Nations community who have concerns or questions.

"We are encouraging our Indigenous people to come along, even if they may feel hesitant," Ms Blayney said.

"Local medical practices have generously offered to share some vaccines should we not have enough on the day, however we are hoping we will be able to source more for this project when we move into further stages."

The Medicare payments received for the vaccinations will be channelled through Bega Valley Medical Practice and donated to one Indigenous and one non-Indigenous local health charity.

The second stage of the initiative is aimed at further assisting Katungul with Indigenous vaccination by having as many local medical practices as possible set aside all or part of a day, or more days if needed, for Indigenous vaccination.

Aboriginal health workers have offered to volunteer their time to assist at these practices and help local indigenous community members feel comfortable in attending. Bega Valley Medical Practice will be announcing the first allocated day shortly.

"There have been many Indigenous people involved in the initiative, advising and offering support and in planning and decisions," Ms Blayney said.

"It is proving to be a wonderful cooperative effort between the Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in the Bega Valley.

"The Eden clinic has the endorsement of Twofold Aboriginal Corporation and Uncle Ossie Cruise has also expressed his support for the initiative," Ms Blayney said.

The walk-in vaccination day will be held in Eden Seaview Room, downstairs from Eden Community Health Centre from 10am - 2pm on Saturday, September 25.

For more information contact SNSWLHD Aboriginal Health, Joe Stewart, or Jo Donovan on 6491 9224.

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