TO HIT a major jab milestone was reason to celebrate but also a prompt for Ballarat Health Services' chief to ask RU OK, encouraging the community to check in on each other.
BHS clocked up its 100,000th COVID vaccine in the Grampians region on Monday, tallying combined jabs for the Ballarat, Ararat and Horsham state-run vaccination centres only.
BHS chief Dale Fraser acknowledged it had been a slow process to get to this point under changing vaccination guidelines, accessibility and supply.
Mr Fraser said the COVID vaccine roll-out, which started in February, had relied on a huge community effort in a challenging time for his health staff, business and every one who had rolled up their sleeves already.
He said we could not underestimate the ongoing impacts of the pandemic and everyone had a role to play in community well-being - not just vaccinations.
Thursday is RU OK Day? It's a perfect time to reach out to someone and ask how they're going. We can't underestimate the impact on mental health in the last 18 monthsDale Fraser, Ballarat Health Services chief executive
"Thursday is RU OK Day? It's a perfect time to reach out to someone and ask how they're going. We can't underestimate the impact on mental health lockdown, COVID and everything connected in the last 18 months has had," Mr Fraser said.
"I encourage everybody to take a small moment of their day to say 'are you okay', listen with empathy, agree on and action and then do some follow up.
"Our staff have been phenomenal and I'm genuinely thank not only our staff here, but our staff across the region, the people at the Mercure and people at Zagame's, all doing this massive community effort.
"And more, I thank the 100,000-plus people coming to the public clinics. They are making our pathway for Victorians faster and more direct out of COVID and that's the only pathway we have".
BHS' mass vaccination centre, based at The Mercure on Main Road, opened in April for then-category 1a people, which was primarily frontline healthcare and emergency services workers.
By late April, this expanded to over 70s with over-50s joining jabs in May.
The hub opened up walk-ins for all adults wanting the AstraZeneca vaccine last Friday. This came as the state government halved AstraZeneca interval times to six weeks, bringing it more in line with Pfizer doses.
Pfizer is available to people aged 16 to 59 and by bookings only.
IN OTHER COVID NEWS
Mr Fraser also warned against speculation or shaming people about vaccinations. He said it was important to stick to facts from proven health bodies was vital in time when so many people were under added mental stresses due to pandemic restrictions.
"People can do very simple things to maintain their protection: a good mask; good hand hygiene; getting vaccinated; social distancing; QR coding when you go out and about; if in doubt get a test, even if the minimalist of doubt get a test, get isolated until you get a test and get test results back and try and live as normal life as you can," Mr Fraser said.
For more details for what to say when checking on someone's well-being, visit: ruok.org.au.
If you or someone you know is in need of crisis support, contact Lifeline 13 11 14.
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