A RUSH for booster bookings amid growing COVID-19 case numbers has prompted a rethink of Warrnambool's vaccination centre shutdown over Christmas and 1000 additional appointments opened up.
There are 31 positive patients across the south-west, with 23 in Warrnambool, seven in Moyne Shire and one in Glenelg Shire.
Almost 2000 south-west residents received their COVID-19 booster shot ahead of Christmas this week.
A further 1000 bookings have been added to the system and hours extended at the Warrnambool Vaccination Clinic, SWH acting chief executive Jamie Brennan said.
"After living for so long under essential public health measures we'd all like to be able to embrace family and friends over Christmas, without worrying about putting them at risk, so it's wonderful to see so many people getting their booster as soon as they are eligible," Mr Brennan said.
The Merri Street centre has extended its hours and opened on additional days for walk-in appointments.
A number of GP clinics, aged care facilities and community health organisations across the region have also administered booster shots this month.
In response to the changes in booster intervals - shortening from six months to five - SWH will bring forward the reopening of its vaccination centres over the Christmas holidays to January 7 in Warrnambool and January 13 in Camperdown.
Christmas rush strains testing sites
Health services across the region are struggling to meet surging pre-Christmas demand for testing.
In the last two weeks, SWH has averaged 200 tests per day and expects that number to rise in coming days. On Sunday it exceeded 300 tests.
The community is encouraged to make use of other testing facilities for asymptomatic travel testing, and where possible to only attend the Merri Street testing centre if experiencing COVID-19 symptoms.
"Private pathology labs offer a number of facilities in the region for COVID screening before travel, which operate on a bookings basis," Mr Brennan said.
Additional sites will be set up if testing demand exceeds capacity, with a site at Warrnambool's Deakin University already being prepared.
The Warrnambool vaccination centre will close Christmas Eve, December 24 and the Camperdown centre on December 23.
Children join vaccine rollout
The vaccination program for five to 11-year-olds will begin on January 19 in Warrnambool and January 20 in Camperdown, with bookings becoming available January 10.
Bookings for 5-11 year old vaccinations will become available
During its shut-down period the vaccination centre will undergo a facelift to create a child-friendly vaccination roll out.
"Parents and children will be welcomed to a new inclusive space that aims to decrease any anxiety or fears around needles and to ensure the vaccination process is as positive and easy as possible," Mr Brennan said.
The All Abilities clinic will also be taking appointments from January 17 on Wednesdays between 9am and 12:30pm.
Seven patients were cleared of COVID-19 overnight.
Increased Warrnambool Vaccination Centre hours:
- Wednesday December 22, 8.30am to 5pm: bookings/walk-ins - 250 appointments available
- Thursday December 23, 8.30am to 5pm: bookings/walk-ins - 250 appointments available