End of an era as COVID-19 response concludes

End of an era as COVID-19 response concludes

Published Thursday 9 June 2022

COVID-19 response team members.

CHHHS Executive Director COVID-19 Response, Dr Donna Goodman and CHHHS Vaccine Director Kelly Pollock.

CAIRNS’ main COVID-19 vaccination hub will be closing its doors this weekend, as the Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service (CHHHS) prepares to conclude its COVID-19 Response after two-and-a-half years.

The final day for COVID-19 vaccinations at The Pier shopping centre will be occurring on Sunday, as CHHHS continues to wind down its COVID operations and services, in line with statewide processes.

COVID-19 testing clinics across the region, including at 43 Aumuller Street, Portsmith; Tully, Innisfail, Atherton, Mareeba and Mossman hospitals are also shutting down this weekend.

CHHHS Executive Director COVID-19 Response, Dr Donna Goodman, said the Health Service’s Health Emergency Operations Centre (HEOC) had also been stood down within the past week.

‘Our HEOC was our hub of COVID-19 operations, which was stood up on January 30 2020,’ she said.

‘The membership of the HEOC included representatives from CHHHS, Torres and Cape Hospital and Health Service, Pathology Queensland, Queensland Ambulance Service, Royal Flying Doctor Service, Northern Queensland Primary Health Network, Marine Safety Queensland, and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.

‘The HEOC was responsible for a range of tasks, from managing quarantine accommodation, to establishing COVID-19 testing clinics, tracking and expanding the procurement of Personal Protective Equipment, the provision of ongoing support across the health service, and much more.

‘Each member of our HEOC met regularly (usually weekly) to discuss where our resources were needed, as case numbers grew and eventually declined.

‘That we have reached a point now where we are able to disband not only our HEOC but most of our COVID-19 Response is a credit to everyone who dedicated their lives during the past two years to preventing a potentially fatal virus from enveloping our communities.’

Dr Goodman said most CHHHS staff would be returning to their former roles within the Health Service, however some components of the COVID-19 Response would still be retained in case there was another surge in cases.

‘This includes the ability to stand up contact tracing, testing and vaccinating capabilities at a moment’s notice,’ she said.

CHHHS COVID-19 Vaccine Director Kelly Pollock said her team had delivered nearly a quarter of a million COVID-19 vaccinations across the region since February last year.

‘We are in a much better place now, compared to when we administered our first COVID-19 vaccine earlier last year,’ she said.

‘More than 95 per cent of people aged 16 and over have received one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, while nearly 94 per cent of people aged 16 and over have received two doses.

‘We are still recording dozens of COVID-19 cases in our region every day, but the fact that we have so many people protected against serious illness as a result of COVID-19 infection is a remarkable achievement.

‘We are very proud to have played a key role in helping prevent the spread of this virus in our communities.’

She said the First Nations COVID-19 Response team would still be conducting outreach across the Cairns and Hinterland region until required and the mobile vaccination clinic (AKA COVan) will conduct its last pop-up clinic on 19 June at Smithfield Shopping Centre.

Key information

  • The Pier shopping centre vaccination hub closes on 12 June 2022
  • COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be offered at rural facilities (Innisfail, Atherton, Mareeba, Mossman) until further notice
  • COVID-19 testing clinics will be closing at Portsmith; Tully, Innisfail, Atherton, Mareeba and Mossman hospitals by 17 June 2022
  • COVID-19 and flu vaccinations are still available from GPs and community pharmacies.

Last updated: June 2022