First COVID jab a shot in the arm for Grafton hospital staff
It could've been like any other morning at Grafton Base Hospital's Ambulatory Care Ward as Melinda Swann was ushered into a room to get the injection.
But it was no ordinary injection, and Dr Swann, an emergency registrar at the hospital, was about to be part of a piece of local history.
She was the first person to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at the hospital, and with typical clinical efficiency, the needle was swiftly in and out of her arm, and she was pointed down the hall to a makeshift observation room.
"It's just another day, I guess," she said, nonplussed at the attention of waiting media and health district managers there to mark the occasion.
"I just got told a timeslot, so to be first, just lucky I guess."
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Dr Swann said that even with the scarcity of COVID-19 in the area, the pandemic had changed their work practices greatly over the past year.
"You have to assume everyone has it, and it means we're a little bit more on edge and with another level of protection," she said.
Even the vaccine supply was as unassuming as the event, a small box in a fridge containing the precious cargo, of which the skilled nurses were able to draw nine doses out of the vial with precision.
The vaccinations continued throughout the day, with staff hoping to give 50 doses on the first day, and around 64 on each day following.
Frontline staff at the hospital, allocated into Phase 1A would be vaccinated first, with other staff and emergency services allocated in Phase 1B also included in this round.
The vaccine given is the AstraZeneca variant, which officials said now with official approval of Australian manufacturing, would allow a plentiful supply for this round, and further rounds of vaccination.
Northern NSW Local Health District CEO Wayne Jones said that he was excited to see another vaccination clinic open up to ensure the safety of all their staff.
"We now have clinics in Lismore, Tweed Heads and now Grafton," he said.
"I want to congratulate the Grafton Base Hospital clinicians who have established the clinic … it's an exciting day for Grafton."
*Correction: Earlier The Daily Examiner made an error in Dr Melinda Swann's name, and omitted her title. We apologise for the error and it has been corrected.
Originally published as First COVID jab a shot in the arm for Grafton hospital staff