Meat processing facilities in the Loddon Mallee region will be better protected against COVID-19 outbreaks through an outreach vaccination program.
Bendigo Health’s mobile COVID-19 immunisation team began vaccinating staff at Hazeldene’s processing facility in Lockwood on Wednesday, as part of a program that aims to vaccinate 2000 high-risk workers across the region.
Bendigo Health board chair Bob Cameron said vaccinations had already taken place at DON KR in Castlemaine.
“Last year we saw Coronavirus spread across many meatworks in Victoria,” he said.
“We know because people in these industries work in close proximity and in damp environments Coronavirus can spread much quicker so it’s important these people are vaccinated to protect these industries and jobs.”
Mr Cameron said the outreach vaccination program, which has given 6000 jabs, is important to reach high-risk workplaces and people that are unable to visit the Community COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic in Bendigo.
Hazeldene’s Director John Hazeldene described day one of the outreach program as a “climax for the business” following a difficult 2020 which saw the processing plant shut down for a number of days due to a COVID-19 outbreak among staff.
“We had 800,000 chickens growing every week, we could process them because it’s automated but didn’t have any workers to pack them so we wasted so many birds – it’s the worst thing I’ve ever been through in business,” he said.
Mr Hazeldene expected good uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine from employees.
“Our workers realise they don’t want to go through the mess of last year and don’t want to be out of work,” he said.
“Having the vaccine come to us is great, its easy when it’s done at work, it’s going to put us in a better position, making us, our jobs and the community more secure.”
For more information on where and how to get vaccinated, visit: https://www.bendigohealth.org.au/COVID19vaccine/