EastGippslandNewsNow |June2021 23 Vaccine roll out expanding T he COVID-19 vaccination program is expanding in Victoria to include everyone aged 40 years and over. From May 28 more than half of all Victorians became eligible to receive either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines – helping protect themselves, their loved ones and our whole community. Victorians aged 40-49 years will be able to access to the Pfizer vaccine at state run vaccination sites, in line with advice from The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). People aged 40-49 years receiving the Pfizer vaccinemust book an appointment by calling the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398 – and can do so now – this is essential as not all vaccination centres will have the Pfizer vaccine available. Victorians aged 50 years and over will continue to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, either through a state-run vaccination centre or a participating GP clinic – as recommended by ATAGI. While many vaccination centres are accepting walk-in appointments for people aged 50 years and over, bookings via the 1800 675 398 hotline are preferred. Since launching the first high-volume vaccination centres, the state-run program has expanded rapidly to more than 30 hubs across metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria. Victoria had record demand for vaccinations and forward bookings in the final week of May, and the Victorian Government was grateful for the public’s response and patience. “Almost 400,000 Victorians have already been vaccinated through one of our vaccination centres - it’s now time to open the doors to everyone aged 40 years and over,”VictorianHealth Minister, Martin Foley, said. “This is a significant step forward in our vaccine rollout, as we work towards our goal of vaccinating as many eligible Victorians as possible. “The latest outbreak is a reminder that the best thing you can do to keep your community safe as we head into winter is to go out and get vaccinated.” Recovery progress T he East Gippsland Bushfire Recovery Committee has released its Second Recovery Progress Report. The report details the initiatives, achievements and goals of community and agencies working in partnership on bushfire recovery, including: * Detailed snapshots for our impacted districts, including impacts, community-led recovery initiatives, key achievements and future goals. * Recovery works and progress within the five pillars of recovery – built, natural and social environment, culture and healing, and economic. * The impact of COVID-19 on recovery and acknowledging while every recovery journey is different, overall experts are indicating that recovery is delayed, and wellbeing of our community has been impacted by the pandemic. East Gippsland Shire Council chief executive officer and recovery committee chair, Anthony Basford, said the Second Progress Report acknowledged the work undertaken to date to support recovery, with a focus on the past six months since the report published in September 2020. In particular, the report highlights the significant work of Community Recovery Committees and representative groups who are leading recovery at a local level. “It has been 15 months since the bushfires and while this may seem a long time, we know recovery can continue for many years. Recent research from University of Melbourne is recommending a five-year recovery framework,”Mr Basford said. “Council and the committee appreciate the significant investment made by so many, in so many ways, in what is a long-term recovery for our region,” he said. “The committee acknowledges the noticeable positive signs of recovery. A significant amount of damaged or destroyed infrastructure is now back in place, and following the disruption of COVID, communities are re-engaging and re-connecting.” Across the shire, public infrastructure is largely restored with a focus now on strengthening resilience. Home rebuilding is underway. Some residents are in new homes, while others are waiting until they are ready to make these important decisions. Financial investment and support continue to be provided to impacted business and investments, as identified by community, to support economic recovery. “A lot has been achieved to rebuild our communities, but there is a lot more to be done,”Mr Basford said.