Outreach clinics help vulnerable communities get vaccinated

More than 130 children from Western Sydney's vulnerable communities have now had their first dose of COVID vaccine thanks to dedicated children's outreach clinics.

Organised by Sydney Children's Hospitals Network (SCHN), the outreach clinics aimed to encourage the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community around Mt Druitt, and the Sudanese, Afghani and refugee community around Blacktown to get vaccinated, with a particular focus on those children with chronic and complex health conditions. 

Jessica Renwick, Nurse Manger of the Outreach Clinics, said the clinics were an important opportunity to build trust in these communities and ensure those most at risk of getting COVID-19 could come forward and get vaccinated.

"We had heard there were quite a big group of children and families in these communities who were anxious and hesitant about vaccination."

"We know in these vulnerable populations, there is already distrust around large, medical environments and for this reason they are unlikely to attend one of the big vaccinations hubs so we created two small clinics for them to attend close to their homes instead," Jessica said.

"By tailoring our clinics to these groups we were able to provide a culturally safe environment for the children and their families and were able to reassure and support them appropriately through their vaccination."

The outreach clinic for the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community was run by nine nurses from SCHN and was generously hosted by Greater Western Sydney Aboriginal Health Service. It was also supported by the Western Sydney Local Health District's Aboriginal Health Hub staff.

Twelve SCHN staff helped run the outreach clinic for the Sudanese, Afghani and refugee community, with support from Sudanese Australasian Medical Professionals Association and the Multicultural Health Service at the Western Sydney Local Health District.

"This was a huge collaborative effort. As well as the groups who helped us on the day, we also had support from local GPs and community groups who helped to spread the word and one of our nurses who was organising zoom information sessions for youth groups to attend before vaccination so we could help alleviate some of their anxieties."

"The atmosphere at both clinics was so relaxed and welcoming and the community were really grateful for us being there. The vaccination team is truly incredible and I am incredibly proud to be able to collaborate across the health system to help these families," Jessica said.

Jessica said the attendance at both vaccination clinics was really encouraging and hopes that the community will continue to get vaccinated. 

"Vaccination is the best insurance we have against this virus and it is the best way to protect yourself and your family."

"If anyone has any questions, concerns or is not sure about the vaccination of their kids, please just ask. We are happy to help any way we can," she said.

The next vaccination outreach clinics will be focussed on more multicultural groups, including those from non-English speaking backgrounds, in coordination with Multicultural Health and Mission Australia. 

For more information about COVID-19 and childhood vaccination, visit the NSW Health website