• The New South Wales town of Walgett has a large First Nations population (Supplied)Source: Supplied
As the Walgett outbreak grows, the age range of positive cases has caused concern with many young children impacted.
By
Mikele Syron

Source:
NITV News
15 Oct 2021 - 2:00 PM  UPDATED 15 Oct 2021 - 2:19 PM

There have been renewed calls for the government to increase resources that will allow the Walgett Aboriginal Medical Service to administer more doses of the vaccine, especially to protect its youngest residents. 

Acting CEO of the Walgett AMS Katrina Ward told NITV News that the young ages of those affected were causing the community great concern, and that youth vaccination needs to speed up. 

“We need... (a vaccine) that is going to be suitable for the younger age group and small body size, and that will give them minimal reactions as well," she said.

It comes as the northern New South Wales town records a concerning increase in new COVID-19 cases, with the majority of those infected being young children aged from infancy to 13 years old.

One infant who tested positive is just months old.

There have been 25 cases of the virus confirmed in the community in the past week, with the majority of them children, prompting the indefinite closure of schools, preschools, and education centres in the region.

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Ms Ward said local services are banding together to encourage people to get vaccinated for the sake of at-risk children.

“If we can stop it from our adults, we can try and protect our younger children better as well," she said.

"We're encouraging anyone from (age) 12 up to come and get vaccinated as well, whether at the AMS or the pop-up services that are being provided and even up at the hospital.”

AMS wants to administer Moderna

With months of bad press causing skepticism towards both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, Moderna has emerged as a preferred choice in the community, according to Ms Ward.

Ms Ward says some community members have indicated they’d prefer to have the Moderna vaccine, which is only available through pharmacies, under the federal government’s roll-out plan.

She says the AMS should be given the opportunity to deliver the vaccine, as it’s already providing Pfizer and Astra Zeneca doses.

“They (the government) want everybody vaccinated. So they need to give us the tools to be able to do it. And if that means giving the AMS or other GP services, or the local hospital the vaccinations to do it, then they need to do it as a priority and not sit back and wait.”

"It's all about getting everyone vaccinated, that's what we hear from the government all the time, but they need to give us the tools."

There are approximately 13 households in the Walgett area now in complete quarantine.

With no current plan to reintroduce a lockdown in the town, concerns surrounding infection remain high, with the AMS urging the community to remain diligent and continue following COVID-safe hygiene and social distancing measures.

Community gatherings now permitted under relaxed NSW restrictions pose a risk of becoming super-spreader events, and have sparked fears that the result will be accelerated case numbers in the coming weeks.

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