By Julie Owens

20 August 2021

Parramatta went into lockdown with one of the lowest COVID vaccination rates in NSW. Thanks to the Morrison Government’s painfully slow rollout we still have some of the lowest vaccination rates in Sydney.

On 16 August, just 20-29% of residents in Parramatta and surrounding suburbs were fully vaccinated. Rates are even lower in Granville, Merrylands and Guildford – suburbs that have seen an exceptionally high number of COVID cases – where just 10-19% are fully vaccinated.

Public health experts have pointed to complex booking systems and the lack of easy access to vaccines in Western Sydney as key factors holding back vaccination rates.

My office is still hearing from people who are struggling to access the vaccine every single day. They tell me mass vaccination hubs offering Pfizer are booked out months in advance. Those opting for AstraZeneca are still struggling to book a local appointment, as not all GPs are offering the vaccine and those that do will only vaccinate existing patients.

For some people, the reason they can’t get vaccinated is simply because the nearest vaccination centre is to too far away.

In countries like the USA and the UK – which ordered Pfizer a full five months before the Australian Government finally inked a deal – you can’t travel far without finding a walk-in vaccination centre. They’ve been set up in shopping centres, libraries, theatres, even train stations.

To get through this pandemic, we urgently need access to more vaccines - but at present, there are no mass or walk-in vaccination centres in Parramatta.

The closest mass vaccination centre taking bookings is at Sydney Olympic Park. The closest walk-in vaccination centres still accepting new patients are in Bankstown and Fairfield.

The Morrison Government’s failure to secure enough vaccine supplies and get them where they’re most needed has put Western Sydney at greatest risk in this outbreak.

If we’re to have any hope of turning this around in Parramatta we need more walk-in vaccination centres that we can actually walk to, in our community centres and places of worship. Local organisations have offered to help, but so far their pleas have been ignored by the government.

That’s why I’m demanding that walk-in vaccination hubs be set up in the Parramatta CBD and surrounding suburbs.

If you think our state and federal governments should stop blaming Western Sydney for this outbreak and start working together to set up walk-in vaccination centres in Parramatta now, sign the petition here.