BENDIGO has reached a milestone moment in its fight against COVID-19, as health workers delivered the first vaccines to aged care residents.
It comes just days after Australia's vaccine rollout began. Hopes are high that it's a sign the worst of the pandemic may have passed.
Bentleys Aged Care residents Arthur Eaton and Shirley McDonald, both 96, were among Bendigo's first community members to receive a shot of the Pfizer vaccine, on Tuesday.
The move was a relief for staff, after a stressful year fighting to keep COVID-19 at bay from the home's vulnerable residents.
Both Mrs McDonald and Mr Eaton were feeling good on Tuesday morning ahead of their immunisation.
Mrs McDonald said her vaccination was a prologue to that of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great- grandchildren, who she hoped would be able to have a good life like herself.
"It's not just privilege, but something you should do, because it's going to help, if we've got the rights to have it," Mrs McDonald said.
"And it goes through the world, look what England's suffering ... and there's a few dying in droves."
Mrs McDonald said she was glad to be at Bentleys in Bendigo, as she watched the sad spread of COVID-19 through aged care homes in Melbourne during 2020.
A team of specially trained medical workers set up at the aged care home on Tuesday morning, bringing their own equipment. Vaccine doses arrived by special delivery, kept at the required low temperature.
All in all 53 residents were due to receive their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
Bentleys facility manager Wendy Rogasch said the vaccine would offer residents an extra level of protection, so they would feel more secure. It came after a particularly difficult year for residents and staff, who were aware of high COVID-19 death tolls at Melbourne aged care facilities.
For Ms Rogasch it was a relief after nearly 12 months constantly thinking about where the virus could get into the home, educating staff and reassuring residents and families.
She said it was the hardest year she had ever worked in aged care.
"It's not 100 per cent protection, but it's just that extra level that the residents and staff can feel a little bit more comfortable," Ms Rogasch said.
"Staff were really scared ... they would be the one to bring it in and that puts an extra level of stress on your work from day to day.
"They just love their residents and they'd hate to be the cause of an illness."
Ms Rogasch said the vast majority of residents were very happy to receive the vaccine, with very little hesitation.
"Generally when I went to speak to them they were all prepared with their yes answer. Their families had been speaking to them and they'd been thinking about it," she said.
"This is a stoic generation of people who understand the greater good, they're not self-centred and they know what they're doing will help the country."
Mr Eaton said the vaccine was necessary to prevent the possible serious illness that came with COVID-19.
He said he'd feel comfortable after having the vaccine, because he had more security.
Mr Eaton said the restrictions on movement with Victoria's lockdowns were understandable, but it was good the pandemic was coming to an end.
Aged care workers are also among priority groups to receive the COVID-19 vaccination, but Ms Rogasch said the details were yet to be confirmed at Bentleys.
Aged care residents are due to receive their second shot in 21 days.
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