KI left high and dry over COVID-19 vaccine roll-out
Kangaroo Island residents have no access to COVID-19 vaccinations close to home despite months of liaison with Federal and State authorities, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie said today.
“I first raised the lack of access with the State Health Minister Stephen Wade back in January, and then again in March, when I also wrote to the Federal Minister Greg Hunt because Yorketown on the Yorke Peninsula was listed as the closest vaccination clinic for Islanders on the Commonwealth's vaccination information website,” Rebekha said.
“Since then I’ve heard there was a shambolic scramble to vaccinate frontline health workers on the Island in early May but nothing has been done to roll out the vaccine program to eligible residents, placing the onus on people to spend hundreds of dollar to fly or take their car on the ferry to the mainland to find somewhere to get vaccinated.
“Despite letters, emails, and phone calls, just this week I have received correspondence from the State Health Minister Stephen Wade MLC advising that SA Health is still developing a ‘site-specific strategy for the rollout of the vaccine on Kangaroo Island’.
“I’ve put in further inquiries to find out exactly what a ‘site-specific strategy’ may entail and if there is a timeframe for the people of Kangaroo Island but I haven’t received a response to date.
“I appreciate that rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations across the State is a complex and challenging logistical exercise but it’s been five months since I first raised this issue and now I find out that SA Health is still ‘developing' a plan. It’s not good enough.
“Just under 5,000 people live on the Island and more than a thousand of them are aged 65 years and over. A number by virtue of age, disability, or underlying health conditions are eligible for priority, free vaccination under phases 1a and 1b of the vaccine rollout.
“The Federal Minister for Health, Greg Hunt MP, acknowledges in his correspondence to my office that Kangaroo Island is identified as a ‘very remote community' and the delivery of COVID-19 vaccinations needs to be progressed in this locality.
“I call on the State Government to speed up whatever ‘site-specific strategy’ they have for the Island and to give Islanders a timeframe and more clarity about the vaccine roll-out.”