CANBERRA, July 18: The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has been enlisted to inoculate thousands of Australians against Covid-19 in remote areas.
Frank Quinlan, RFDS federation executive director, said the service has administered about 5,121 coronavirus vaccines since being brought in by governments to accelerate the rollout in remote communities.
Of those vaccines, it was estimated that about 45 per cent were for Indigenous Australians.
“Early on in the pandemic we identified a whole number of communities across Australia where the RFDS is either one of or the primary source of health care,” he said.
“So we’re now provided vaccine clinics into those often remote and often small communities.
“We’re expecting on the back of the plans we’ve worked up to be delivering some 50,000 vaccines to some 500 vaccine clinics between now and the end of the year.”
As of Saturday, about 10 million Covid-19 vaccine doses had been administered in Australia.
“At our current pace of roughly 956,674 doses a week, we can expect to reach the 40 million doses needed to fully vaccinate Australia’s adult population in late February 2022,” according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), a non-profit organisation, received A$38.8 million in funding from the federal government to join the vaccine rollout.
It has been tasked with delivering doses to remote medical centres, deploying support staff and supplying health care staff to administer jabs.
“The remoteness of some communities has been both their protection but also their risk because we know that those communities are often protected by distance but at the same time they experience poorer health by distance,” Quinlan said.
“We know if Covid was to get into communities the impact would be devastating.”
As of Sunday, there has been 31,771 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Australia, and the number of locally acquired cases in the last 24 hours was 131, according to the latest figures from the Department of Health.
The death toll stood at 913.