Regional residents were urged to book their COVID-19 booster shots as soon as possible, to help local health staff manage the community’s transition from pandemic to endemic, Local Government NSW (LGNSW) said today.
The call came as official NSW case figures hit a daily high of more than 30,000 over the weekend, according to NSW Health.
LGNSW President Darriea Turley said regional NSW had responded magnificently to the pandemic so far, with around 93% of residents double vaccinated and a real focus on protecting the vulnerable in their communities.
“It’s what regional and rural communities do – they pull together in times of crisis,” Cr Turley said.
“We’ve seen it again and again, through drought, bushfires, floods, and COVID.
“But there can be no doubt our regions face special challenges, and you need only look at the evidence before last year’s NSW parliamentary inquiry into rural and regional health to see the cumulative impact of these.
“Difficulties in accessing health care, staffing shortages and the sheer tyranny of distance are just the most obvious issues experienced outside our cities.
“Supply chain issues also have more impact outside metropolitan areas, and have the potential to exacerbate the impact on our rural and regional health system.
“Now, with the Omicron variant infecting more Australians than ever before, we’re calling on regional communities to do everything they can to support their local health professionals by getting jabbed with their booster shot as soon as possible.”
Cr Turley said that while the infection rate of the Omicron variant was high, reports were indicating that the vast majority of double-vaccinated Australians infected experienced mild symptoms and were able to manage their own care at home.
“However, we all know vulnerable or immunocompromised people in our communities, so to protect them while also supporting our local medical professionals it’s common sense to stick to the behaviours we know work, and book in for a booster shot,” she said.
Cr Turley also stressed the importance of the common sense and community spirit for which the residents of regional NSW were known.
“As frustrating as it is, shortages of Rapid Antigen Tests and a wait for booster appointments are inevitable in some areas, through no fault of our local providers,” she said.
“Local businesses may be short-staffed due to people isolating because they are sick or close contacts.
“Our medical professionals have been working their guts out for two years now to keep us safe, and they’re increasingly exhausted.
“In tough times like these we need to continue to be kind to each other, because that’s the way we will get through this with our communities intact.”
Cr Turley said NSW councils would continue to do their best to support their communities, and were ready and willing to help drive a locally led recovery from the latest phase of the pandemic.
“None of us can do it alone: we need all levels of government and all members of the community to work together so we can move past the COVID pandemic and into a much brighter 2022.”