Vaccines underway in remote WA communities

·2-min read

Some of Western Australia's most vulnerable people are flocking to receive their coronavirus jabs as the rollout begins in remote Aboriginal communities.

About 200 people were expected to be vaccinated on Tuesday in Beagle Bay, on the Dampier Peninsula in the state's north.

It is the first remote community in WA to receive the vaccines, which are being administered by Kimberley Aboriginal Medical Services.

Medical director Lorraine Anderson says the successful start bodes well for keeping the virus out of vulnerable communities.

"We've been blown away today by the enthusiasm of the community coming to be vaccinated, and especially the older people," she told AAP.

"There's queues of people here wanting to get the vaccine. We're really excited that people are accepting this vaccine as well as what they are today."

Tourists and travellers remain barred from entering more than 200 remote Aboriginal communities across WA as part of the state's COVID-19 response.

But the vaccination program remains a major safeguard for when access is eventually restored.

"I think it's fairly well-known that people in remote Aboriginal communities have a much higher rate of chronic disease, in particular diabetes and heart disease," Dr Anderson said.

"We do know that COVID-19 is a nasty disease. It makes people very, very sick and if you've already got some underlying chronic conditions then it actually is a lot worse and much harder to recover from."

A thousand doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine were delivered to Broome on Friday.

KAMS reaches just over half the Aboriginal population in the Kimberley, and it's aiming to vaccinate 90 per cent of people in the remote communities it looks after.

Health workers spent about eight weeks visiting remote communities to discuss the vaccine and address any concerns.

The KAMS graphics team also went to work on translating the health department messaging to make it more accessible.

Dr Anderson said the the face-to-face contact had been invaluable in preventing vaccine hesitancy.

WA's border is closed to Queensland as the state grapples with two clusters totalling 15 cases which have sent Greater Brisbane into lockdown.

Premier Mark McGowan on Tuesday said he was concerned by the fact that the outbreak may have spread to Byron Bay.

"Obviously we'll watch NSW very closely," Mr McGowan told reporters.

"We've already put in place restrictions around Byron Bay in addition to the totality of Queensland but if there's outbreaks in NSW, we won't hesitate to put up a border with NSW."