Public buildings such as the Mullumbimby Civic Hall could become mass COVID-19 vaccination centres, under a proposal put forward by Byron Council last week.
The plan was part of a broader motion passed at last week’s planning meeting, in a bid to get more locals vaccinated.
As The Echo has reported, the Byron Shire has one of the lowest vaccination levels in NSW, with 31.8 per cent of Byron residents over 15 years of age being fully vaccinated, compared with 52.8 per cent for the State as a whole.
‘It’s estimated that Byron may not reach the double dose rate for up to five months,’ said Labor Councillor Paul Spooner, who moved the motion.
‘This will become particularly concerning when the rest of the state can travel again, because people who are vaccinated can still carry COVID-19 here, and our most vulnerable will be at considerable risk.
‘The NSW Premier has also hinted that we may miss out completely on the lifting of restrictions without our vaccination rate being lifted’.
Cr Spooner said that lack of mass vaccination centres in rural and regional areas such as Byron had been a major impediment to getting vaccinated.
The motion sought to address this, by making Council buildings such as the Cavanbah Centre and Mullum Civic Hall available for mass vaccination, or vaccination pop-up centres.
Councillors also voted to continue supporting the State Government’s vaccination campaign through social media posts, press releases, and other statements of support.
Lack of Pfizer
It will also request that the State Government opens up pop-up vaccination clinics in the Shire.
Greens Cr Sarah Ndiaye told the meeting that the lack of Pfizer doses in the Shire had also contributed to the low vaccination rate here.
‘I’ve heard of one case where a person actually offered to buy other people’s Pfizer appointments,’ she said.
Earlier in the meeting, mayoral aspirant, Asren Pugh (Labor), urged Council to take a stronger stance on the issue.
‘Look, I realise it’s a contentious issue, and that there’s a sizable anti-science minority that use some pretty nasty language in this discussion – making some pretty nasty comments’, Mr Pugh said.
‘But there are a lot of people who are just unsure… For these people, we need to provide understanding and empathy.’
When it came to the vote, just one councillor – Jeanette Martin (former Green, turned independent) – voted against it.