Central Australian Aboriginal Congress (CAAC) and Tangentyere Council have recently partnered to provide pop-up clinics to Alice Springs town-camp residents, with the aim to get 50 per cent of their clients throughout Central Australia fully vaccinated by the end of the year.
Currently, in the middle of their vaccination blitz, CAAC CEO Donna Ah Chee, says that progress in the blitz is going well, but there are some challenges in encouraging people to get vaccinated.
With the Northern Territory having already dodged two major scares of a COVID outbreak, Ms Ah Chee raised her concerns about the tendency for people to get vaccinations much too late, and pointed to the east, where vaccination rates in Far West NSW communities climbed after the confirmed outbreak.
“What we’re trying to explain to our community is that we can’t wait for an outbreak. we’ve got to prepare and have that vaccination before that outbreak comes… It’s not a matter of if covid comes, it’s when it comes.”
There are currently around 70 vaccinations a day at Congress clinics according to Ms Ah Chee. She predicts that due to the hesitancy amongst some community members to get vaccinated, and the fact that Central Australia hasn’t experienced a major outbreak yet, an original target of vaccinating 50 per cent of clients has been reduced to a “more realistic” target of 40 to 45 per cent of clients.
Ms Ah Chee is in strong support of the latest announcement from the NT Chief Minister, Michael Gunner who outlined the Territory’s roadmap out of lockdown recently, intending to get the Territory to 80 per cent fully vaccinated by mid-November.
However, Ms Ah Chee says Congress will continue to push for an equitable benchmark for the Aboriginal population of 90 per cent to 95 per cent vaccination rates, which will be an acceptable rate to keep communities safe in upcoming months.
Ms Ah Chee spoke to CAAMA’s Josef Egger in the video below.