BENDIGO'S Aboriginal cooperative has welcomed news it will receive COVID-19 vaccines next week, saying they will help prevent spread in the Indigenous community.
The Bendigo and District Aboriginal Cooperative medical clinic will be among the region's first to administer the COVID-19 vaccine from next week, to patients in the 1b priority category.
BDAC executive director Dallas Widdicombe said about 300 clinics clients were in this category, which includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged over 55 years, and anyone with certain disabilities or chronic diseases.
Mr Widdicombe said rollout would begin on Thursday, with the clinic already nearly booked out that day. He said BDAC was excited to receive its first doses and he expected strong uptake.
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people suffer far worse health outcomes than the general population, [so] the vaccine prevents COVID-19 spreading throughout our community," Mr Widdicombe said.
Mr Widdicombe said the clinic expected to be able to administer 70 to 80 doses each day, meaning it would hold a clinic once a week.
He said all BDAC patients in the phase 1b category would receive a phone call from the clinic with an opportunity to book.
Mr Widdicombe said BDAC had two Aboriginal Health Practitioners, specially trained to administer the vaccine.
"To be receiving it at an Aboriginal clinic provides cultural safety, we're a trusted environment for the Aboriginal community," Mr Widdicombe said.
"It's fairly important for us to be able to deliver vaccine for our community."
Phase 1b of Australia's COVID-19 vaccine rollout is due to begin from Monday, as general practice clinics prepare to start administering doses.
The program will begin with 1000 clinics, including at least 14 in central Victoria, ramping up to more than 4000 by the end of April.
Murray Primary Health Network has urged central Victorians to remain patient as the rollout program began.
Murray PHN chief executive Matt Jones said health providers had time to plan and coordinate vaccine rollout, as there was little or no spread of COVID-19 in the community.
A vaccination eligibility checker is available online at: covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au/eligibility.
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