Lake Macquarie will soon be home to the region’s first COVID-19 mass vaccination hub, with work to transform the former Bunnings warehouse at Belmont now underway.
It’s the second such facility in NSW, and crews will spend the next few weeks getting the warehouse ready, before it starts delivering up to 20 thousand jabs a week, from mid-July. The hub is also set to employ up to 100 nurses, 25 pharmacists and 200 support staff.
Other locations had been considered for the hub, including McDonald Jones Stadium and Newcastle Entertainment Centre, but NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says ultimately Belmont was the right choice.
“It was the people’s choice. When we opened up the suggestions to locals I can’t tell you how many came in suggesting the Bunnings site,” Mr Hazzard said.
The familiar local favorite just off the Pacific Highways ticked all the boxes for NSW Health as well, with a large footprint and plenty of on-site parking.
“Everybody knows where it is, and of course it’s got heaps of parking,” Mr Hazzard explained.
The Health Minister was confident the hub would help NSW drastically speed up its vaccine roll-out.
“We’re going to see about 20 thousand minimum people going through this new centre and hopefully it’ll make a huge difference.”
“Obviously we need to get jabs in arms as fast as possible because the borders won’t open up until we have people properly vaccinated, at least 70% to 80% of them,” he said.
Swansea MP Yasmin Catley has given her full support to the project, after her office was inundated with enquires from locals who have not yet been able to secure a vaccine.
“I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of constituents come to my office seeking advice on where they would be able to get a vaccine promptly, because the waiting lists have been so long,” Ms Catley said.
“It’s great news that we’ll have a hub in Belmont which will be able to service both the Central Coast and Newcastle areas,” She said.
The Swansea MP also took the opportunity to stress how critical it is for people to embrace the vaccine to protect the community.
“It’s really important that everybody does take this very seriously, and gets out and gets the vaccine,” she said.