SCHOOL leaders Seona Murnane and Brett Shillito say a combined pop-up clinic is about far more than getting children back in the classrooms sooner.
For the Mount Rowan Secondary College and Yuille Park Community College principals, this is a chance to help ensure the wider community is best protected and healthy against the deadly coronavirus.
The pop-up clinic, in partnership with Ballarat Health Services, delivered more than 300 COVID vaccine jabs in the Mount Rowan gym on Sunday.
This comes as BHS works on more targeted vaccination pushes, on top of the mass vaccination clinic based at The Mercure, in a bid to improve access before the state starts to further open up. Phoenix College is also set to become a pop-up site and plans are underway for some workplaces.
Ms Murnane said it was great for the school to be able to offer jab access to families.
If they are healthy and safe, they can come back to school sooner.- Wendouree MP Juliana Addison
"We can be at the centre of the community and people can come to us rather than have to go across town," Ms Murnane said. "...If they are healthy and safe, they can come back to school sooner."
Ms Murnane said there was a buzz in the school gym with students excited to back on campus - even for an injection - for the first time since lockdown six, about half-way through last term.
A staggered return for students steps up this week but Ms Murnane said days like this vaccination push helped everyone get back to normal.
Mr Shillito agreed and said for Yuille Park to work with Mount Rowan was an important chance to better engage the schools' broader community - especially when a hub, mostly within walking distance, in a familiar place became an option for their families.
"For our community, there is a sense of trust they have in the school and we have really strong relationships we have been able to build over time," Mr Shillito said. "This is important for our families' health, well-being and education."
BHS chief executive officer Dale Fraser said vaccine accessibility was not easy for many families and it was great to have the chance to now take jab clinics deeper into pockets of the community.
"We've come to them and there's been lots of interest today and lots of families coming to get vaccinated together," Mr Fraser said.
Wendouree MP Juliana Addison, who toured the pop-up gym clinic with Mr Fraser on Sunday, said the model and the school community response set a great tone to follow.
"We know we've been able to remove some barriers to access and we're thrilled," Ms Addison said. "We know schools are at the heart of the Wendouree community and the partnership between BHS, Mount Rowan and Yuille Park is a great opportunity."
SIBLINGS Ash and Chloe Blackburn say it feels good to finally have a COVID jab.
The pair rolled up their sleeves in a Wendouree pop-up vaccination clinic on Sunday at Mount Rowan Secondary College in a move aimed to make for easier jab access in the community.
Ash, aged 17, had his first vaccination dose at the Ballarat Health Services-run clinic at The Mercure . He said it was handy to shift his second dose closer the home.
The SEDA College student has been missing sporting lessons, which are a key part of his school, but he also wants to get back to a relatively normal life.
Ash also juggles work at Kmart and said it was nice to have a bit more confidence in protection the COVID vaccine could offer. He is now fully vaccinated ahead of the mandatory vaccination rules coming into play for authorised workers.
This was 14-year-old Chloe's first COVID jab.
"I want to be able to get back to learn at school," the Mount Rowan year eight student said. "It feels relaxed here...Just closer to home and easier."
The Wendouree pop-up clinic was run by Mount Rowan and Yuille Park colleges in partnership with Ballarat Health Services. More than 300 COVID vaccinations were taken up. A pop-up will return to the school gym in three weeks' time for second doses.
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