WARRNAMBOOL will become the 10th hub in the state to offer the AstraZeneca vaccine to young people aged 18 to 39 years.
The vaccine will be available at South West Healthcare's vaccination centre at the old Sam's Warehouse site, the hospital announced this afternoon.
It comes after the region's doctors reported a rise in people, including teenagers, choosing to receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine following the latest lockdown.
READ MORE: Rise in people getting AstraZeneca jab
Allansford's Jacoba Mungean is among many young people in the south-west eagerly waiting to book in her vaccine at the Warrnambool vaccination clinic.
The 22-year-old says she doesn't mind which vaccine she receives, she just wants to protect her family and her community.
"AstraZeneca will probably be what will get offered to me," she said.
"There are a few different reasons I suppose; the first would be having a one-year-old running around at home.
"By getting the vaccine I would be lowering the risks of her getting it, and secondly I want to have fun with my family and explore our big Australian backyard and maybe even overseas, and getting the vaccine would somewhat bring normality back once the majority have it.
"Thirdly, vaccinations to me are a big part of giving my child and myself the best chance at life. We've been poked and prodded with different vaccinations since we were six weeks of age."
Being pregnant and giving birth right in the middle of last year was a difficult experience for Ms Mungean.
"I hated it and loved it at the same time," she said.
"I got to spend so much time with my newborn and the connections were amazing as nobody came over unannounced, but also meant my parents and my partners parents didn't get to meet their first grandchild for a while - no hospital visits, nothing."
She is looking forward to a COVID-normal future for her young family.
"This year it sucks, I want to go do things as a family, (but there's been) lots of cancelled holidays, cancelled swimming lessons... just can't get into a routine with lockdown after lockdown.
"I haven't gone back to work as I can't commit to anything with lockdowns but luckily my partner works on his family farm so we've always been lucky."
Warrnambool's Joel Bateman got his first dose of AstraZenenca on July 23 after lockdown five last month when the eligibility expanded to those aged under 40.
After speaking with his doctor at the Warrnambool Medical Clinic, he said he felt confident and informed in his decision.
"I booked in with my doctor and he spoke to me about the possible side effects with clots and reassured me about how rare they are what to look out for and if they did arise, how they're treated pretty easily now," Mr Bateman said.
"I felt a bit woozy and tired after getting it, and had sore joints the next day, but I get that with the flu shot so this was no different."
The 34-year-old grew up in Camperdown and now lives in Warrnambool.
The constant lockdowns and high death toll overseas were enough to prompt him to do his part to get back to normal life.
"When you look at what's happening around the world - even in Sydney - you see that things can change so quickly here. We just had another lockdown," Mr Bateman said.
"I decided to take it upon myself to get vaccinated and not wait for Pfizer given there's no certain timeframe.
"When you look at the statistics and the issues with AstraZeneca versus COVID-19, I thought I would get the ball rolling.
"I would say to other people 'go and talk to your doctor about it'. Mine was extremely reassuring about it all.
"If you're still hesitant after that you should wait, but I doubt you will be as the information they give you on how it all works is very comforting."
Mr Bateman has been able to work from home through lockdown but he said the on-again, off-again climate has been frustrating and mentally draining.
"You sort of feel helpless and frustrated," he said.
"I try to be optimistic and maybe we're getting closer to normal with vaccination rates, maybe things will change.
"The vaccine messaging couldn't be more confusing if they tried, with the different age ranges, different vaccines and who can and can't get it - it's been extremely confusing.
"As far as the state government goes it's hard to see what other option they've had sometimes. I haven't agreed with everything that's happened but it's hard to bag them out when other states haven't done much better."
He was "stoked" to hear regional Victoria was out of lockdown and said his friends and family were feeling frustrated about being lumped in with the Melbourne cases.
"When you have to go long periods without family and friends it's difficult, especially when our last case was nearly 12 months ago.
"It's hard getting lumped in with Melbourne a lot of the time when essentially we're a different place and should be governed differently."
Forty-one per cent of young readers of The Standard said they would take the AstraZeneca vaccine.
South West Coast MP Roma Britnell said she had been inundated with calls from local young people eager to get the vaccine.
Warrnambool's Emily Hancy, 23, said getting vaccinated was important for herself, but even more so for the people around her.
"I'm happy to take any vaccine that is available to me," she said.
"I think the risk of coronavirus is bigger than the risk of any significant side effects."
Travel is also shaping up to be a big motivator for a lot of young people to get vaccinated.
Mark Wilkinson shifted to Geelong from Warrnambool and is looking forward to getting vaccinated on the weekend.
"I'm trying to do my part to try keep everyone safe and try get life back to somewhat normal," he said.
"I'd like to be able to travel and I have a five-month-old daughter I'd also like to keep safe."
He was on JobKeeper for about five months with no work during the first lockdown.
"I have found the lockdowns really challenging mentally," he said.
"I usually go to the AFL footy most weekends which I haven't been able to do."
Another young person in Warrnambool was eligible for the Pfizer vaccine due to his diabetes and couldn't get there soon enough to receive his first dose.
The 25-year-old said if it wasn't for his health he'd be booking in for AstraZeneca.
"If I wasn't (eligible for Pfizer) I wouldn't have any problems getting AstraZeneca," he said. "My brother is a pharmacist and he told us everything we need to know and more about it so I wouldn't see a problem.
"I wanted to get vaccinated mainly to do my bit in keeping people around me safe and also for my health with the extra risk of being diabetic."
He said he feels fortunate the lockdowns haven't affected his ability to work.
"I live with a few people so I've always still had that interaction, and I play games online with a few mates."
Another young Warrnambool teacher, aged 35, received her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine today but said she would have taken AstraZeneca.
"I was lucky and secured a spot last week, as a teacher though under the age of 40 I would have got either vaccine," she said.
"In my current workplace environment I am teaching many students across a range of year levels daily so it was important to me to get any vaccine to feel more at ease in this workplace.
"I felt that being required to work previously in such a space without the opportunity to be vaccinated was a difficult pill to swallow.
"I'm very glad have access now to the vaccines. It is also, on a broader community level, an important step forward to ensure higher vaccination rates.
"We need kids at school which means we need teachers at school, increasing vaccination access and as a result increasing vaccination rates is a step forward!"
In the last 24 hours Victoria saw the biggest day of vaccines since June 5, including 2366 first doses of AstraZeneca.
Health Minister Martin Foley said the AstraZeneca numbers were a three-fold increase on uptake last Monday, demonstrating young people's desire to get vaccinated.
"Clearly, young people have assessed their personal situation in a strong and informed manner, and many are determining that there are significant risks in remaining unvaccinated during a Delta outbreak," he said on Tuesday.
"They've made a balanced and pretty straightforward decision as to where the interests and the community's interests lie because they know it's not just about young people coming forward to get vaccinated, they're doing it for themselves.
"They're doing it for their family, they're doing for their local community, their sporting clubs, their cultural organizations that don't offer their workplaces.
"They're doing it because they want to get to a COVID normal world as rapidly as we possibly can.
"Getting vaccinated within the restrictions of supply that we are operating under is their contribution."
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