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Victoria recruits 1000 booster vaccinators

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Victoria will recruit 1000 people to administer COVID-19 vaccines to bolster its booster rollout, as the health system continues to be plagued by virus-related staff absences.

The state government is encouraging first-year health students and retired nurses to apply for one of the new positions, with applications opening next week.

Acting Health Minister James Merlino said the recruitment drive was needed as the number of people eligible for their third dose is set to “dramatically” increase in coming weeks.

COVID-19 Response Deputy Secretary Naomi Bromley said training was “absolutely key”, with vaccinators required to complete commonwealth and Victorian vaccination training.

They must also complete a COVID-19 clinical kkills and competencies assessment, and undertake a number of supervised vaccinations before carrying one out themselves.

The new vaccinators will not be responsible for establishing patient consent and will only be authorised to vaccinate people over 18.

Eighteen per cent of Victorians aged over 18 have received their booster.

The state opposition says the booster rollout was running slower than planned as less than half of the promised doses had been handed out in week one of a vaccination blitz.

Further, IT issues at the Royal Exhibition Centre hub forced healthcare staff to fill out registration and vaccine forms by hand, leading to lengthy queues.

The opposition is calling for a 24-hour hub to allow more people to get vaccinated out of hours and for pop-up clinics in local suburbs and summer holiday hotspots.

Meanwhile, Mr Merlino said 6600 health workers are now unable to work due to being either COVID-positive or close contacts of positive cases, up from an earlier estimate of 4000 on Monday.

He said the government was considering a number of measures for the health system, including activating “code brown” to signal an emergency.

“We have a health system under considerable strain,” he said.

“Code brown is available at any time, at any hospital, but we are looking at what other measures we need to put in place across our health system.”

Triple-zero operators are dealing with unprecedented numbers of calls, as AAP understands COVID is impacting its operational workforce.

Ambulance triple-zero calls are averaging more than 3000 a day, compared to 2400 in August.

The Emergency Services Telecommunications Authority, which operates triple zero, said more than one-in-five callers did not need an emergency ambulance response.

The cumulative impact of people delaying medical help since the start of the pandemic, a rise in mental health-related emergencies, COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations were also blamed for the increased demand.

Ambulance Victoria issued its second code red alert in a week on Tuesday, due to “extreme demand”.

– AAP

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