Healthcare workers have been praised for their ongoing professionalism, resourcefulness, compassion, and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’re superheroes, the frontline workers,” said Wee Waa Local Aboriginal Land Council chair Clifford Toomey on Saturday at the pop-up vaccination clinic.

“They’re marvellous, they put themselves at risk every day to come to communities like ours.

“All the frontline workers are awesome, I just want to say – keep up the awesome work, stand up and be counted because it needs to be done.”

Nurses from the Wee Waa Community Hospital joined forces with the Royal Flying Doctor Service to deliver more than 300 COVID vaccines at Saturday’s bush-style clinic, which was safely set up under the shade of tents and trees in the WWLALC grounds.

Residents over the age of 12 were eligible to line up to receive the jab, with many rolling up their sleeves for protection against the highly infectious delta strain but also viewing vaccination as ‘a ticket to freedom’ and way out of lockdown.

“The community have led the way on this because it’s important everyone is vaccinated,” said WWLALC chief executive officer Robyn Keeffe.

“We need to be ready and the more vaccinated we are, the more ready we are.”

Wee Waa Local Aboriginal Land Council chair Clifford Toomey, who prefers Clifford to Mr Toomey, said it was important rural communities had access to the vaccination, and the work being done by local nurses and the RFDS was critical.

“Health wise it’s a must, especially for Aboriginal people,” he said.

“We probably stand in one of the main categories in terms of vulnerability to COVID.

“It’s vital because we’re all pretty family orientated and if one got it then we all get it and it’s dangerous.

“My message to the mob out there is come and grab it, come and get the Pfizer.

“The jab hurts a little more than a tickle but less than paying your taxes.

“It’s a protection for us out there.

“I had a bit of a storm in my mind when I had the jab, but I’ve come through that.”

Clifford said the increasing number of COVID cases and health issues in Western NSW was “mind-blowing” and “hit a bit too close to home”.

“We’re pretty lucky that we haven’t had a case in Wee Waa or even Narrabri which is just down the road.”

Mrs Keeffe said she was impressed to see the community embrace the town’s second pop-up Pfizer clinic, and another one is due to be held this Sunday.

“We’ve had a really great response,” said Mrs Keeffe.

“I want to thank the Wee Waa nurses for coming and we are just overwhelmed by what the Royal Flying Doctor Service has done for us – it’s unreal.

“I want to thank the community at large who have come to help us.

“The volunteers we’ve had help here today have also been unreal,” added Mrs Keeffe.

“Inspector Robert Dunn organised for two ACLOs (Aboriginal Community Liaison Officers) which is great, the SES is here, John Clements from Roy Butler’s office is here helping and as you can see local businesses have put up tents.”

The RFDS is running the
community-led vaccination program in isolated, rural and remote communities across Australia, with funding from the Commonwealth government, and in close coordination with Aboriginal medical services, primary health networks, local hospital districts and state governments.

RFDS nurses also administered vaccinations in Burren Junction last Friday and in Narrabri on Sunday and Monday.

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