Gratitude, solidarity and a prevailing sense of hope are on display every day at the Qudos Bank Arena Vaccination Centre as thousands of western Sydney residents come forward for their COVID-19 vaccination.
Following a successful first week vaccinating more than 15,000 Year 12 students, the state’s biggest mass vaccination centre opened its doors to eligible authorised workers this week and Mary Salib was the first in line.
“To say I was excited was an understatement,” Mary said.
“I just want to jump on a plane and continue seeing the world.
“The whole process was so easy, and the people working here are lovely. If we want freedom back and if we want normality back – go for it. Get the jab.”
Also among the newly-vaccinated looking forward to travel was Laurence Miclette, who moved from Canada to Australia shortly before the pandemic hit.
“I am so grateful to be in this country. Canada was in lockdown for 10 months. I have had many family members and friends contract the virus, and they are still feeling the effects of it six months down the track,” Laurence said.
“We need to avoid this, and that is why I believe getting vaccinated is important. I think if we want to avoid being locked down for summertime, everyone should do their part and get vaccinated.”
Vaccination centre nurse immuniser Pauline Hunt has also sadly seen the devastating toll of COVID-19 overseas and is now working to help protect more and more people from western Sydney.
Two of my close friends passed away from COVID-19 while working as nurses overseas. That is why I do the work that I do.
“I want to help stop this deadly virus. The more people we vaccinate, the better we will be in the long run,” Pauline said.
Local shopkeeper Swarnjeet Deol said he’s eager to be able to visit his parents in India again.
“I manage a retail grocery store and am interacting with customers every day. I not only want to keep myself safe, but keep my staff and the community safe also,” Swarnjeet said.
“We all have family we want to go home to, a family we want to protect. The COVID-19 vaccination is the best way to do that.”
17 year old Harris Le got vaccinated to help protect himself and his grandfather, who he lives with.
“The vaccination felt like nothing… I reckon a blood test hurts more. The lines might look long at the vaccination centre but they go really quick. All the staff are very sweet,” Harris said.
Qudos Bank Arena Vaccination Centre is open every day to anyone aged 16-39 from a local government area of concern, with 120,000 Pfizer doses available next week.
Vaccination centre executive director Dr Emma McCahon encouraged everyone eligible to make a booking now.
“We’ve been totally booked this week vaccinating more than 8,000 people each day and we want to see that continue next week,” Dr McCahon said.
“Every needle in an arm takes us one step closer to safety and freedom.”
Vaccination is safe, free and available for everyone aged over 18 in NSW.