Centenarian Grace Symonds experienced the World Wars and the Great Depression and is now one of the first geriatric carers on the central north coast of New South Wales to receive the COVID-19 vaccination.

Important points:

  • Elderly care facilities in Port Macquarie get their vaccines first on the central north coast
  • Grace Symonds, a geriatric nurse, says the vaccine is a good thing
  • Garden Village CEO Craig Wearne says a small percentage of residents have chosen not to get vaccinated

The resident of the Garden Village elderly care facility in Port Macquarie said she was not concerned about getting the shot on Saturday.

“I don’t worry until I see something to worry about – there are a lot of other things out there and I’m in a safe place,” said Ms. Symonds.

“I can only look for what I hear and what I read so that I can say [the vaccine] will be a good thing. “

Ms. Symonds said the pandemic is not like any other major event she’s been through.

“I think this one is so scary compared to the others,” she said.

“We’ve had ups and downs with war and things like that in my 100 years, but I’ve had all the experiences people wish they might or might not want.”

The residents of the Garden Village elderly care facility will receive the vaccine in Port Macquarie over the weekend. (ABC Mid North Coast: Hannah Palmer)

Ms. Symonds said she didn’t think there was any other alternative than for everyone to be vaccinated.

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“It was so bad that so many people lost,” she said.

“I think that [the health professionals] I’ve worked for 12 months and finally found something to fight back, and maybe that’s how it ends.

“I do not know if [anyone] will survive or if they hit it on the head, but it can’t last forever – nothing lasts forever, good or bad. “

CEO confident in the rollout

Craig Wearne, General Manager of Garden Village, said the elderly care facility’s staff looked forward to launching the Pzifer vaccination program this week.

“I am confident that the rollout will work as planned,” said Wearne.

“We will be adding additional staff and overseeing management over the weekend to ensure the vaccination process goes smoothly.”

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Mr Wearne said there was a small percentage of residents who chose not to receive the vaccine.

“We have provided a lot of information about the vaccine to our residents, families, and staff so that they can make an informed decision as it is a personal choice,” he said.

A gloved hand holds up a small vial of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccinePort Macquarie geriatric carers receive Pfizer vaccine (AP: Mike Morones)

“It will be a game changer”

The introduction of Commonwealth Vaccination for Elderly Care in northern New South Wales is supported by Healthy North Coast, which provides the North Coast Primary Health Network program.

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Bron McCrae, a North Shore healthy spokesman, said the work to get the vaccine out was more important than any other practice put in place during the pandemic.

“The work we are doing to educate our residents, staff and our community about vaccination will be a game changer,” Ms. McCrae said.

“I know there were hiccups [with the rollout]But when you think about what this means, the work the government has done and the planning that has gone in that direction is a mammoth.

“We just have to recognize that and be patient and flexible and get to the point where we have to be, namely to be safe and to be able to live again.”

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