Pharmacist raises alarms over COVID complacency in Great Southern communities

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Tom ShanahanGreat Southern Herald
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Katanning Pharmacy managing pharmacist Mukhtar Hedayat with an AstraZeneca vile.
Camera IconKatanning Pharmacy managing pharmacist Mukhtar Hedayat with an AstraZeneca vile. Credit: Tom Shanahan

Katanning pharmacist Mukhtar Hedayat has railed against COVID-19 vaccine complacency, urging Great Southern residents to roll up their sleeves and get the jab.

The COVID-19 vaccine arrived at Katanning pharmacies last month, with Katanning Pharmacy and Great Southern Community Chemist now offering AstraZeneca jabs for those who are eligible.

Mr Hedayat, managing pharmacist at Katanning Pharmacy, said residents should consider getting vaccinated not only to protect their own health, but to protect society’s most vulnerable.

“Herd immunity is the main thing we are trying to achieve — the more people who do it the better,” he said.

“People who can’t get it, they are unprotected.”

Mr Hedayat said Premier Mark McGowan had done a good job of keeping COVID-19 out of the Great Southern, but stressed unvaccinated residents should not consider themselves safe from the virus.

While Perth vaccine clinics were booked out during lockdowns, he said he had not received a single booking for a COVID-19 jab as of Monday afternoon.

“Complacency is one of our weaknesses — the virus doesn’t care about who you are,” Mr Hedayat said.

“If you look at NSW, they started with four cases and now they have over 200 a day.

“Once the virus hits it doesn’t stop — it’s airborne, it is unseen.”

Only 15 per cent of Australians are fully vaccinated — the second-lowest vaccination rate among the 38 OECD countries.

Robin Hoysted and Nikhil Patel.
Camera IconRobin Hoysted and Nikhil Patel. Credit: Tom Shanahan

As the COVID-19 crisis worsens in NSW and other States remain in lockdown, calls have reached fever pitch for Australia’s vaccination rollout to pick up speed.

Pharmacies in towns such as Katanning, Kojonup, Wagin and Narrogin were given the green light to deliver the vaccine from July 12, while other regional centres were left out in a system described as “absurd” by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA.

Ten days later, the Federal Government scrapped that system and initiated a widespread rollout into thousands of Australian pharmacies.

Pharmacy Guild of Australia WA director Matthew Tweedie said while the change of approach was encouraging, it was also an admission of error from the Federal Government.

“We can see that the Commonwealth has finally admitted that they got this wrong and that they’re going to bring on more and more pharmacies as soon as possible,” he said.

“We have never understood, still can’t understand and never will, why this wasn’t done with everybody right from the start.”

Healthcare worker Robin Hoysted was one of the first to get vaccinated in Narrogin, getting the jab at the Narrogin Guardian Pharmacy last week.

Robin Hoysted in Narrogin Guardian Pharmacy after her jab.
Camera IconRobin Hoysted in Narrogin Guardian Pharmacy after her jab. Credit: Tom Shanahan

Ms Hoysted said she wanted to get vaccinated for work and for her family. “I have a granddaughter that was born at 26 weeks, she’s got compromised health so I just wanted to make sure,” she said.

“I don’t want to be the one to carry it or give it to her and work.”

She encouraged everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

“If it’s going to save your health, go and do it,” she said.

“Look after your health, look after others’ health. Don’t think about yourself, think about your family — think of the risk.”

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