South Australians won’t have to travel hours to receive their Covid-19 jab anymore, as the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) has begun its ‘fly-in’ trek to ensure all citizens receive the COVID vaccination.
As part of the national response to the pandemic, the company – which provides aeromedical health care – is set on delivering vaccinations to the communities that would normally receive the least amount of access.
Over the next few weeks, the RFDS from Port Augusta Base will visit 14 locations around South Australia including Hiltaba, Glendambo, William Creek, Marla, Marree and Oodnadatta.
Monday kicked off its first round of providing the Pfizer jab, held at the Glendambo Hotel, north of Adelaide, followed by flights with the vaccination team to the remote communities of Kingoonya, then Commonwealth Hill and Mt Eba Stations.
“This is the one-time opportunity for locals the chance to ‘roll up their sleeves’ and take part in the RFDS’ Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination program in outback SA,” said Natalie Szabo, RFDS Executive General Manager Health Services Development and Clinical Governance.
Australia’s vaccine rollout has had a slow start, with only 10.7 per cent of the population inoculated almost eight months since it was first approved.
Those eligible for the fly- in vaccination will be above 16 – years old, an existing client of the RFDS service, or are a permanent resident of the locations part of the campaign.
The RFDS has an established fleet of 79 aircraft, including 19 Pilatus PC-12s and 2 Pilatus PC-24 Medi- Jets 24s.
The Pilatus PC-12 is the company’s all-rounder when it comes to medical flying, as the aircraft has sufficient capacity, amenity, speed, range and performance. It is the RFDS bread and butter for flying to the city and the outback.
The Pilatus PC-24 Medi-Jet 24 is the ‘ultimate flying intensive care unit’, the first aeromedical aircraft of this kind in the world. It contains capacity for stretchers, two medical teams of four doctors and nurses, can land and take off on unsealed runways and can halve existing travel times.
Most of the company’s funding comes from private donors who contribute to the maintenance of its fleet and medical equipment.