Mullewa, Mingenew agricultural shows would welcome COVID vaccine clinics, say organisers

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
The Esperance and Districts Ag Show in 2019.
Camera IconThe Esperance and Districts Ag Show in 2019. Credit: Kelsey Reid/Kalgoorlie Miner

Organisers of several Mid West agricultural fairs say having COVID-19 vaccination clinics on the showground would go far to help meet vaccine targets in regional WA.

Their comments come after Member for Roe Peter Rundle on Tuesday asked the State Government to provide the same access to vaccination hubs at major regional agricultural shows as will be available at the Perth Royal Show.

“There are thousands of people who may not have the same vaccination opportunities as those in the metro — the Labor Government has a responsibility to create and incentivise opportunities for rural communities if they genuinely care about keeping WA safe,” he said.

One of the largest agricultural field days in the region, the McIntosh and Son Mingenew Midwest Expo will host up to 1700 people next week.

Expo chairman Andrew Cosgrove said having a vaccine clinic at the show could help attract even more attendees.

“If it means that we are going to get more people to come to the show, anything is a good idea,” he said.

Mr Cosgrove said those in Mingenew and surrounds were eager to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated.

“There are a few people who are against it but overall if it means we can just get on with life, it is a good thing,” he said.

Between 1500 and 2000 people from across the Mid West will flock to the Mullewa Show at the end of the month.

Mullewa District Agricultural Society committee secretary Julie Freeman questioned the logistics of administering vaccines at regional shows, but said the idea had merit.

“One of the things that is great about the regional agricultural shows is that it is the one time of the year when you get the whole community in the same place at the same time,” she said.

“A lot of people don’t come to town regularly — a lot of the fellas on their machines just haven’t had a break with all the rain to come into town — so it would be a great opportunity to scoop them up and give them the jab.”

The Royal Show is famous as the days that the country comes to the city.

But Ms Freeman said attending appointments during office hours was not always practical for some residents.

“If you can’t get to town during surgery hours then that gets in the way of people getting vaccinated, so (the vaccination hub) is just another way to get the job done,” she said.

Minister for Health Roger Cook was “flabbergasted” by Mr Rundle’s proposal, saying many who got the jab at the Perth show would have travelled from regional WA.

“The Royal Show is famous as the days that the country comes to the city. It is an opportunity for people from the country to be able to come and showcase their great industries and take the opportunity to spend some time with their families at the Royal Show,” he said.

“Obviously, that is a great opportunity for people to get themselves vaccinated.”

Mr Cook said there were upwards of 90 vaccination centres across the State for country residents to access.

“(This is) in addition to teams that are moving around smaller communities to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to get themselves vaccinated,” he said.

“We have the commonwealth program around Aboriginal communities, which is working with the Aboriginal medical services to ensure that those people as well have access to vaccines.”

About 5,100 COVID-19 vaccine doses per 10,000 people have been administered in the Mid West to date, according to the WA Health Department.

Data released by the Federal Government this week shows 36.9 per cent of adults in the Wheatbelt have received their first dose, with 15.1 per cent fully vaccinated.

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