ADF personnel are working closely with staff and volunteers of many organisations at vaccination hubs across Greater Sydney to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the community.
CAPTION: Seaman Nicholas Hopkins talks with members of the NSW Police and NSW Rural Fire Service at the Prariewood Community Centre Vaccination Hub in Fairfield, Sydney. Story by Captain Martin Hadley and Lieutenant Commander John Thompson. Photo by Corporal Dustin Anderson.
The NSW Government had requested an extra 300 ADF personnel on top of the 250 who were assisting on the airport and hotel quarantine programs.
The extra personnel are performing a wide range of tasks in support of NSW Health and NSW Police, including helping at vaccination centres.
NSW Rural Fire Service Group Captain Andrew Macdonald, one of the volunteers assisting NSW Health at a mass vaccination hub set up at the Prariewood Community Centre in Fairfield in Sydney’s south-west, said it was truly a joint effort to get as many people in the area safely vaccinated as soon as possible.
“We have NSW Health, the Rural Fire Service, NSW Police, St John’s Ambulance and the ADF all working together as one team,” Group Captain Macdonald said.
“The ADF and police teams provide the assistance we need to make this run smoothly.
“That way, we can focus on running initial health checks as well as transporting the vaccines here from Liverpool hospital.”
At this Fairfield facility alone, NSW Health expect to vaccinate more than 1000 people in a single day.
The focus of the centre currently is walk-in Astra Zeneca vaccinations and pre-booked second Pfizer vaccinations for essential workers such as aged-care workers and school teachers.
Working with NSW Health officials, ADF personnel also helped establish a pop-up vaccination hub at the Hurstville Entertainment Centre in one of the local government areas of concern.
Local NSW Health Nurse Manager, Joshua Philp, said the help was vital.
“Having the ADF here enables my staff to focus on what they’re trained to do and that is to vaccinate as many people as possible,” Mr Philp said.
Lining up alongside many young Australians to get the jab was 97-year-old Alan Kirkwood.
“I’m keen to get my vaccination and I’m so glad to see the Defence Force here helping out,” Mr Kirkwood said.
Commander of the ADF’s Operation COVID-19 Assist in NSW Colonel Warwick Young said the ADF personnel played an important role supporting NSW Health and NSW Police at the vaccination centres.
“Vaccination is a critical task that the NSW Government is prioritising in its fight against COVID-19,” Colonel Young said.
“Our ADF members are pairing up with their NSW Police colleagues and supporting NSW Health and other emergency services and medical organisations in assisting with the efficient operation of the these vaccination hubs right in the middle of several communities.
“In addition to assisting at vaccination centres, our joint task group members are performing a wide variety of essential tasks in support of the NSW Government, including the distribution of care packages to households in need, welfare and compliance checks, and contact tracing.
“We are here to lend a hand to the greater Sydney community for as long as they need us.”
NSW Police Commander Superintendent Dave Wardell said he appreciated the ADF’s support.
“It’s invaluable. It’s a force-magnifier. We’re able to get a lot more done because of the resources that the ADF has assisted us with,” Superintendent Wardell said..