South Australia's first regional COVID-19 vaccine storage hub is now up and running with the arrival and installation of a 130,000-dose capacity vaccine freezer at the Mount Gambier Hospital today.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the new $11,000 freezer is key to establishing Mount Gambier as a hub for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine in the Limestone Coast region.
"We have embarked on the state's biggest ever peacetime operation," he said.
"Given the scale and complexity of the operation in front of us, we know that there will be road bumps, but we are determined to ensure the safe, efficient and timely delivery of vaccines in a prioritised manner.
"This new specialised ultra-low temperature freezer is the first to be installed in regional South Australia and will ensure the strong progress of our vaccine roll out continues."
To safely store the Pfizer vaccine, the specially designed freezer operates consistently at -70 degrees Celsius.
Minister Wade said the State Government will continue to work with the Federal Government on the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.
He said that as more vaccine shipments arrive in Australia, the Mount Gambier Hospital clinic will soon start vaccinating those in the first priority group.
"In line with Phase 1a of the Commonwealth Government's COVID-19 vaccination program, we have already provided over 2,500 vaccinations to quarantine and border staff, as well as frontline healthcare workers in testing clinics and Emergency Departments and these staff will continue to receive the vaccine as a priority through Mt Gambier Hospital's hub," Minister Wade said.
The other regional vaccine hubs - located at Riverland General Hospital in Berri, Whyalla Hospital, Port Pirie Hospital and Port Augusta Hospital - will come online as the program rolls out.
Limestone Coast Local Health Network executive director of medical services Dr Elaine Pretorius said staff across the network are excited to receive the freezer in the lead up to starting the COVID-19 vaccine roll out.
"The arrival of this freezer signals the readiness of our workforce to establish our clinic and to start administering the vaccines as we receive supplies from the Commonwealth Government," Dr Pretorius said.
"Our vaccination workforce, including administrative and support staff, have already completed the required training and induction programs so they are ready to safely provide the vaccine to frontline staff once our clinic opens.
"Being in close proximity to the border means we are in prime position to support the continuation of vaccinating frontline healthcare staff and quarantine and border workers across the Limestone Coast Local Health Network.
"Our staff know how important it is to vaccinate against diseases like COVID-19 to not only protect themselves and their loved ones, but also to increase protection of those most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19 in our community."
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout throughout South Australia will be undertaken in line with the Commonwealth Government's Vaccine Roadmap.
Find out more about COVID-19 vaccinations at: www.covid-19.sa.gov.au