Vaccines rolled out at Werribee Mercy

John Stafford receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Werribee Mercy Hospital Senior Nurse Immuniser Nicole Whiting. Photo: Supplied 230854_04

A frontline nurse has become the first person to receive the coronavirus vaccination at Werribee Mercy Hospital this morning.

Residential In-Reach nurse John Stafford said the vaccine program would provide additional confidence and protection for medical staff, while helping to protect communities in the west.

Mr Stafford, who works with aged care homes and GPs, said he had seen the impact of the coronavirus first-hand.

He said it was important that people are vaccinated as soon as they can.

“The pandemic has been a distressing time for everyone in our community,” he said.

“My greatest fear was that I would take the virus home to my two young children and my wife.

“Probably because of Werribee Mercy Hospital’s hygiene protocols and all our donning and doffing of PPE (personal protection equipment), we stayed safe.”

During today’s first stage of the vaccine rollout, about 500 frontline workers were vaccinated at Werribee Mercy Hospital (WMH).

The hospital’s nurse unit manager Angela Cook is overseeing the rollout.

Ms Cook said: “This program could run for several months and after hospital staff, the program will be extended to our patients and community members.

“We are mindful of our responsibilities and that important protocols and processes will, at all times, need to be met.”

Mercy Health Group chief executive, Adjunct Professor Stephen Cornelissen, said the experience of the past 12 months had demonstrated the urgent need to invest in Werribee Mercy Hospital’s capacity to continue providing “the best and latest” care in areas such as emergency, maternity and general medical care.

“As Wyndham was at times the epicentre of the virus in Victoria, the role Werribee Mercy Hospital played in shielding the community highlights the continuing need for expanded infrastructure and resources,” he said.

“John and the staff at Werribee Mercy Hospital have been on the front line fighting coronavirus for 12 months ― they know as well as anyone the critical role the hospital and our staff played in protecting the community from an even greater spread of infection.

“As well, our surrounding communities should feel comforted that the hospital and staff are doing everything we can to safeguard their health.

“In November’s Victorian state budget, WMH received $4.8 million funding to finalise planning for the third stage of expansion, which we believe was a clear sign the voices of the people of the west of Melbourne are being heard and government is committed to meeting a major upgrade.

“The pandemic has shown how effectively our staff can respond but it is vital that we keep pace and fully respond with the scope of services required and deserved by our communities.”