Renewed push to vaccinate

THERE is a renewed push for Ararat residents to get booster vaccination shots as new variants of COVID-19 run rampant in our local community.

One in 20 Australians infected with COVID-19 during the Omicron wave is expected to still have symptoms three months later, but as vaccination rates rise the prevalence of long COVID among those infected is declining, infectious diseases experts say.

Ararat Rural City is currently reporting on average 17 cases of COVID-19 per day, with 24 new cases reported on Wednesday.

There are currently 106 people in Ararat with COVID, including three in the Ararat Hospital.

95% of people living in the Ararat municipality have had two vaccines administered, but East Grampians Health Service is concerned many people are delaying their third and fourth doses.

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Only 79.6% of people in Ararat Rural City have received a third dose and even fewer have received a fourth.

All Australians over the age of 30 are now eligible for a fourth dose of vaccine and East Grampians Health Service Chief Executive Officer Nick Bush is urging people to get it done.

“It’s really important. What we are seeing is in this most recent outbreak of COVID people are becoming more unwell and so I would encourage people to get their fourth dose to ensure they can fight off the infection,” he said.

“We are running a clinic two days a week but we will increase the days and hours if the demand increases. We will be very flexible in our response,” Mr Bush said.

Mr Bush said he was also concerned that a number of people have still not received their third shot.

“We’re encouraging people to have the dose because if you are immunised the illness is not as severe.”

“We want to prevent people getting sick. Currently we have three people in Ararat Hospital with COVID. We want to avoid people ending up in hospital,” Mr Bush said.

East Grampians Health Service is running a COVID vaccination clinic each Tuesday and Wednesday at the Ararat Senior Citizens Centre from 9am to noon and then 1pm to 3.45pm.

Anyone with symptoms of COVID, no matter how mild, are urged to come forward to get tested.

The testing clinic at Ararat Hospital is by appointment only by telephoning 5352 9532.

East Grampians Health Service is working in partnership with Ararat Rural City Council to offer care for individuals and families who are affected by the current COVID-19 situation in Ararat.

Any individual or family who needs access to food packages or further logistical support, or is unsure where to turn to, is urged to call 5355 0980 and Ararat Rural City Council staff will assist.

Ararat students will be masking back up in the classroom following advice from the Victorian Health Department this week.

All students aged eight years and above, as well as staff, will be required to masks indoors from now until the end of winter.

Students will not be required to wear a mask outdoors.

Schools and parents across Victoria received a letter from the Department of Education outlining these changes.

“We ask that you make sure your child takes a mash to school and wears it if they are travelling on public transport or collects a mask when they arrive at school,” the letter says.

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