The City of Melbourne and cohealth are establishing a new COVID vaccination centre at the iconic Melbourne Town Hall to reach some of the city’s most vulnerable.
The cohealth Melbourne Town Hall Vaccination centre will initially prioritise those facing disadvantage, including rough sleepers, people with English literacy limitations, refugees, and international students.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the partnership with cohealth is designed to ensure everyone has equal access to the vaccine, with or without a Medicare card.
“We know that getting more jabs in arms is the only way for us to protect the most vulnerable, and stay open,” the Lord Mayor said.
“Every member of our community matters. We want to create a city that is fair and prosperous, that values health and wellbeing, and welcomes people from all backgrounds.”
The cohealth Melbourne Town vaccination centre will open on Wednesday 1 September, with a team consisting of nurse immunisers, a general practitioner and support staff.
cohealth Chief Executive Nicole Bartholomeusz said the organisation was well-equipped to deliver a vaccination program to a wide range of community groups targeting those most in need.
“People experiencing homelessness and other vulnerabilities are at higher risk of exposure to COVID, and yet face greater barriers to accessing the vaccine. We’re ideally placed to bring the vaccine to the diverse CBD community, because of our years of experience working to improve health equity,” Ms Bartholomeusz said.
“We’re grateful to the City of Melbourne for opening up an iconic building for this important health initiative, which will bring thousands of vaccines right into the heart of the city, and contribute to Victoria’s recovery from the pandemic.
“This is a golden example of what can be achieved with collaboration between different levels of government with the Victorian Government providing additional vaccines to cohealth, and the City of Melbourne providing a large, centrally-located space.”
Health, Wellbeing and Belonging Portfolio Lead, Councillor Dr Olivia Ball, said the centre will initially have the capacity to vaccinate 200 people per day, and will scale up as vaccine supply increases.
“We want to make it as easy as possible for all Melburnians to get vaccinated – that’s why this new centre will initially prioritise those most in need, to help them get the protection they deserve,” Cr Ball said.
Passers-by will also be treated to a vaccine hero art installation which features a series of black and white photos by renowned photographer Chris Hopkins. The photos are of cohealth clients who are currently, or at risk of, experiencing homelessness receiving their first vaccine.
Simon, one of the subjects of the photo series, has previous experience of sleeping on the streets. He received his first vaccination in July at a cohealth clinic, and says that he’s proud of his decision.
“I did it for myself, but I did it for everyone else too. It wasn’t a hard decision for me – it felt like a no-brainer really.”
The Lord Mayor said the vaccination centre would be opened to more people in future, but for now the general public should continue to access other centres within the municipality, including the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre and the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton.
Bookings for the Town Hall vaccination centre can be made via www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/book-your-vaccine-appointment or by calling the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.
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More on cohealth:
cohealth is a Victorian not-for-profit community health organisation that strives to improve health and wellbeing for all. It provides universal access to services as well as targeted programs and assertive models to address the health disparities experienced by disadvantaged groups. cohealth offers a broad range of high quality, integrated health and support services, including medical oral, pharmacy, mental health and drug and alcohol services.