New South Wales (NSW) state government has decided to close the Qudos Bank Arena COVID-19 vaccination hub as the state transitions to its COVID-19 booster program.
The centre, which was a crucial component in the drive to vaccinate the city of Sydney, administered over 360,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses in the Western Sydney Local Health District, the Pulse reported on Oct.28
Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the centre’s closure, highlighting the major role it has played in the state’s vaccination efforts and thanked the health care staff.
“It has been an important centre that has really driven the vaccination rate here in NSW, and we’ve had many wonderful health staff there who have been on the front line,” he told reporters at a press conference on Sunday, Sky News reported.
Qudos Bank Arena will now return to its original function, hosting entertainment and sporting greats from Australia and around the world.
Health Minister Brad Hazzard, however, assured NSW residents that the vaccination rate in the state would not slow down as a result of the facility’s closure as a vaccination centre, but he noted that the state was at the “tougher end of the vaccination (program)” and involved people “who have been reluctant for a variety of reasons are now contemplating whether or not they should be vaccinated.”
“They are coming forward, but they’re coming forward more slowly,” he said.
The press conference on Sunday was held at the new Granville Centre vaccination clinic, which opened on Monday and will help lead the booster program, having the capacity to administer 1,000 booster shots a day.
Perottet said it was very clear that the booster program in NSW was going to be “critical in order to keep people safe and ensure we can keep NSW open.”
He added that along with Granville, centres would be set up in other locations such as Homebush and ultimately with GPs and pharmacies.
In addition, COVID-19 booster shots will be rolled out to people aged 12 and over, and those who are severely immunocompromised will be as of Nov. 1 became available to those over 18 who had their second jab six months ago.
The news of the transition comes as hundreds of anti-mandatory vaccine demonstrators gathered in the western Sydney city of Parramatta on the weekend as part of the nationwide “Reclaim the Line” rallies against mandatory vaccines reported 9News on Sunday. According to NSW Police, the rally was peaceful, with no arrests.
Similar rallies were held in Adelaide and on the Gold Coast.
Meanwhile, in Melbourne, thousands of people marched towards Parliament House in protest against the state’s vaccine mandates and the proposed COVID-19 pandemic bill.