Pharmacist hits the road to boost dismal immunization rates in Grant District, South Africa

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A regional pharmacist from South Australia will travel to small communities in the Grant District Council area to organize off-site vaccination clinics to improve low vaccination rates.

The local government area has one of the lowest recorded rates in the country, with just 10.6% of its 7,000 residents fully vaccinated, according to the latest federal government data.

With just 18.9% of people receiving their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, at current rates, the district may not reach the 80% double-dose threshold until the second half of next year.

Concerned about the low numbers, Port MacDonnell pharmacist Amir Hanna has been granted permission to travel to small towns in the region to offer the Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine to residents.

“The council has a large area with small towns scattered all over the place, so I asked to be able to do off-site vaccinations, so that I could go out and vaccinate people where they live,” Hanna said.

Grant District pharmacist provides access to Moderna COVID-19 vaccine.(

ABC Sud-Est SA: Todd Lewis

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Mr Hanna said now is the time for people to roll up their sleeves and get the jab.

“They can’t keep these restrictions forever, so one day the restrictions will be lifted, the borders will be open and you better have protection when that happens,” he said.

Tourist concern

Grant Fensom, a resident of Grant District, who lives in Port MacDonnell, was among the first to receive the vaccine due to his eligibility as a Country Fire Service volunteer.

“It didn’t hurt, I barely felt it and had no adverse reactions at all,” he said.

Aerial photo of Port MacDonnell Township
The small fishing town of Port MacDonnell is popular with tourists.(

ABC Sud-Est SA: Bec Whetham

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Grant District has vibrant fishing, agricultural and forestry industries and surrounds Mount Gambier, which is South Australia’s largest regional center.

It also attracts interstate visitors during the warmer months, and Mr Fensom said the tourism industry could suffer if there wasn’t an increase in the number of vaccinations.

“We’re a diverse region, we should be welcoming everyone so we can spend the money, so I think we should do what we can to make it happen.”

Are the results correct?

Mayor Richard Sage said he believed the results were potentially flawed.

“I think we really need to get some information to find out if it’s by zip code or where people are going to get vaccinated,” Cr Sage said.

In a statement, SA Health said officials were closely monitoring vaccination rates and constantly looking to increase the capacity to vaccinate Southern Australians against COVID-19.

The spokesperson said new vaccine clinic locations were being explored and launched across the state.

“We continue to monitor capacity and supply based on community demand and would like to remind everyone to check the website regularly for new appointments if they haven’t made a reservation yet.”

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