THE first Hunter healthcare workers have received the COVID-19 vaccine at the new John Hunter Hospital hub, a little over a year since the region's first positive case.
Alexandra Mexon, the nursing unit manager of the John Hunter Hospital's COVID-19 Ward, was the first to receive the vaccine at the hub on Monday.
She said she felt "really privileged" to be the first person to be vaccinated on site.
"We still get people coming in who have been swabbed and they await the results on my ward, so it makes me feel a lot safer in my workplace to have the vaccination," she said. "It was really quick, really smooth. The vaccination didn't hurt at all. Just a slight little tingle in my arm. It was fine."
The John Hunter Hospital hub is one of five major hubs across the state, which will also begin to dispatch the vaccine to 15 satellite sites in rural and regional areas across the district in the coming weeks.
Hunter New England Health chief executive Michael DiRienzo said the hub would be initially administering the Pfizer vaccine, which required storage at -70 degrees Celsius, and they would be moving on to the AstraZeneca vaccine "later on".
"We've been spending the past few weeks preparing for today, and we're very excited that we are going to be playing a leading role in the rollout of the vaccine," Mr DiRienzo said on Monday.
"We will see our frontline staff workers get that very important vaccine so that it protects them and also protects the rest of the community against COVID-19.
"Our priority has been to have the vaccine hub here in Newcastle as a starting point, and to try to have a range of satellite towns and sites so that we can have it as close as possible to where our staff work."
News of Hunter New England's first confirmed case of COVID-19 was made public on March 9, 2020.
Since then, the district has recorded 317 cases of the virus.
The COVID-19 vaccine will be available in regional satellite sites in Gosford on March 22, in Port Macquarie on March 24, and in Tamworth on March 29.
Mr DiRienzo said the John Hunter Hospital hub would be open Mondays to Fridays from 8am to 5pm.
While the source of a hotel quarantine security guard's infection is still under investigation, NSW Health said genomic sequencing showed a match to the viral strain of a COVID-positive returned traveller who was in quarantine at the Sofitel Wentworth while infectious. It was found to be the more transmissible variant of the virus - also known as the UK variant.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian said just over 37,500 people in NSW had been vaccinated in the first three weeks of the rollout.
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