THE community took up the opportunity to receive the COVID-19 vaccination on Monday, after the AstraZeneca rollout expanded to those aged 50 and above.
From today, people in that age group can receive shots at general practice respiratory clinics and vaccination hubs.
South West Healthcare expanded the program today after receiving 500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Warrnambool local Jenny Trenery said she had been eagerly awaiting the opportunity to get vaccinated.
"I feel fine, no problems, it was very painless," she said.
"I've been wanting to have it but haven't been able to have it yet. I'd been to the doctors this morning and asked about it and she said to come here and have it done.
"It's best to have it done.
"My husband and I are over 70 and we feel that it's the best thing to do to look after our own health."
2020 was a difficult year for Ms Trenery, who is still yearning to see her son, who lives interstate.
"It was very tricky," she said. "I found it very hard not being able to see our family, that was the hardest and we still haven't seen our son in Queensland yet - we've got one in Queensland and one in Geelong.
"I found that very hard not being able to see the family.
"I think you adjust and get into a good routine at home and you manage quite well.
"We were able to go down to the supermarket and there were quite a few shops open here so I think we managed here in Warrnambool quite well.
"We hope to get up to see him before the year is out."
On May 17, the vaccination program will be expanded to GP surgeries with up to 15.8 million doses available during this phase of the rollout.
Health authorities are hoping for strong uptake of the AstraZeneca vaccines in people over 50, after the rollout slowed amid community hesitation over the risk of rare blood clots.
"The best thing we can all do to support Victoria's recovery from COVID-19 is to take the opportunity to be vaccinated as soon as we can," acting Premier James Merlino said.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said regulators and experts were continuing to look carefully at every report of adverse reactions including blood clots.
"My clear message is that the benefit of the vaccine outweighs the risk. People are seeing what's happening in India," he said.
Professor Kelly said the rollout's objective was to keep Australia safe in navigating the path out of the pandemic.
"An outbreak could happen in Australia so please do not hesitate," he said.
"This is not a compulsory vaccine so people have their choice but waiting until the end of the year is not advised."
Monday marked Victoria's 66th day in a row without a locally aquired COVID-19 case.
Victoria has been notified of one new caseof coronavirussince yesterday - a returned traveller in his 30s in hotel quarantine.
835 COVID-19 vaccination doses were administered on Sunday by state commissioned services across Victoria, bringing the total number of vaccine doses administered to 212,357.
SWH's vaccination clinic will be open in Warrnambool on Tuesday and Wednesday, from 9am-4.30pm, and on Tuesday at Camperdown's Killara Centre.
Labor has criticised the government for its narrow vaccine portfolio with AstraZeneca and Pfizer the only ones in use, while the unapproved Novavax is expected to join the rollout later in the year.
Australian Associated Press
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