INTENSIVE care unit clinical nurse educator Jeremy Deasey is the first essential health worker at Tamworth hospital to be protected against COVID-19.
His ward is where critically ill COVID-19 patients are sent, but with the first of the AstraZeneca vaccine rolled out on Tuesday, at-risk healthcare staff can breathe a sigh of relief.
Mr Deasey was directly involved with developing strategies to deal with the virus at Tamworth hospital.
"I think I can speak for my colleagues when I say this is going to make us feel much safer coming to work knowing we have access to the vaccine," he said.
"The virus hasn't gone, as you can see from Queensland - so this vaccine roll out is where we can become even more safe.
"Everyone plays a roll in this to stamp out the virus, the community should strongly get the vaccine when it's offered to them as that's what's going to make us safe in the long run."
The vaccination is over quickly before hospital staff head into another room for about 15 minutes observation.
Tamworth is in the unusual position where Phase 1b patients received the jab first under the federal government's roll out, a week before essential healthcare staff.
Hunter New England Health rural and regional health services executive director Susan Heyman said the hospital will start with the staff most at-risk of exposure to COVID-19.
"In a week's time we would hope to move out to the smaller sites and eventually all of our staff right across the region will be done," she said.
The AstraZeneca vaccine requires two shots 12 weeks apart.
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