Celebrating a year of taking COVID-19 vaccination to the community

WSLHD Outreach vaccination Willmot Community hub. Left to right: Mridul Roy, John Voukelatos, Romy Joseph, Nathan Leung and Jessie Milkins.

As COVID-19 hit western Sydney by force in 2021, one team was out in the community making sure the most vulnerable had access to lifesaving vaccination.

April 30 marked 12 months since Western Sydney Local Health District (WSLHD) launched its COVID-19 Outreach Vaccination Program.

In that time the team has partnered with nearly 50 organisations to deliver more than 27,000 doses in the community – often urgently mobilising to respond to an outbreak within 24 hours.

Their mission is to reach those most at risk of severe illness, including:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Culturally and linguistically diverse communities
  • Refugees and asylum seekers
  • Aged care residents and staff
  • People with a disability
  • People experiencing or at risk of homelessness
  • People living in social housing

The team not only provides convenient access to vaccination, but also provides education and tackles common questions and misinformation in multiple languages.

After 12 months at the helm, program lead Jannelle Masa is returning to her substantive role as a nurse educator at Blacktown and Mount Druitt hospitals.

She said she’s proud of the team’s work to reach those who may not otherwise have been able to access vaccination.

“This program is all about removing the barriers for people, whether that’s language barriers, navigating the booking process, lack of access to transport or anything else preventing them from getting vaccinated,” Jannelle said.

The question we always ask is how we can best support your needs – and we partner with organisations that already have great connections with the community and know what people need.”

Significant achievements include:

WSLHD COVID-19 Vaccination lead Megan Byrne thanked Jannelle for her significant contributions to western Sydney during her time leading the outreach program.

“It was no small feat to get this program up and running in a short period of time, and ramp things up when the Delta outbreak created overwhelming demand in mid-2021,” Megan said.

“Jannelle has worked tirelessly to support the most vulnerable members of our community, helping ensure no-one was left behind in being able to access vaccination, while also ensuring the safety of her colleagues on the front line who were at high risk of COVID exposure in the community.”

WSLHD will continue to focus on outreach vaccination as walk-in clinics gradually wind back in response to decreased demand – read more here.