Tuesday, 24 August 2021                             HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY                                    Page 6447/6448

The Hon. G.G. BROCK (Frome) (15:50): My question is to the minister representing the Minister for Health and Wellbeing. Minister, can you please update the house on my question regarding the progress of the residents of aged-care facilities at Port Pirie, Clare and Crystal Brook having the COVID-19 vaccination, and also the number of aged-care residents who have been vaccinated and the number who have not received this vaccination? With your leave, and that of the house, sir, I will explain a bit further.

Leave granted.

The Hon. G.G. BROCK: I asked this question on 23 June, and the minister stated he would take it on notice and get back to me. With the issue current at the moment, especially with New South Wales and things like that, I consider this to be a very high issue. I ask if the minister can give me an answer now or else I will need an answer fairly urgently because I have concerns and also residents’ families are concerned about the vaccinations in those facilities.

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER (Morialta—Minister for Education) (15:51): I thank the member for the question. As the minister responsible to the House of Assembly for Health, I believe I did take that question on notice. I will check what the status of the answer is now, but I make the point that obviously an extraordinary amount of work has taken place since June.

There has been an extraordinarily positive response from the people of South Australia to the vaccination rollout across South Australia. I think that more than 50 per cent of South Australians have now taken their first vaccine. For both people who are working in aged care and, indeed, residents in aged care they are, of course, a very high priority and have been since the very start of the rollout.

I think that the member for Frome is able to assist in his community, as are all members of parliament, by reiterating at every opportunity—as I do right now—the importance for all South Australians to get the vaccine. The fact is that all South Australians over the age of 16 are able to now make an appointment to get the vaccination.

However, still there remain, as I have expressed concern previously, people in our community who seek to undermine confidence in the vaccine process, undermine confidence in the medical science. That is our pathway out of this pandemic and it is indeed saving countless, hundreds of thousands, of lives around the world. What we are seeing, despite the significant case numbers in New South Wales—which is, of course, deeply concerning to us all—are vastly suppressed rates of transmission in New South Wales where people have been vaccinated and vastly reduced—

The Hon. G.G. BROCK: Point of order, sir: I asked the question, and I appreciate what the minister is saying, and I wholly agree on that, but my concern is: have all the residents—and I will go one further—and all the staff in those facilities been vaccinated? If that could come back to me as an answer, I would be quite happy. I promote the—

The DEPUTY SPEAKER: Thank you, member for Frome; we have that.

The Hon. G.G. BROCK: I need an answer.

The Hon. J.A.W. GARDNER: The member for Frome asked a question and then followed it up with a lengthy explanation and I am responding directly to some of the points he made. That’s how it works.

When we see in New South Wales that dramatic transmission taking place but yet very reduced transmission from people who have been vaccinated, as I was saying, and the impact on severe sickness, the requirement for the use of ventilators and death being dramatically suppressed when people have had vaccinations, then I go back to what I was saying.

I urge the member for Frome and indeed all members to take every opportunity to reiterate the importance of vaccinations in their community, to encourage people in their community if they have reservations about a vaccination to look at the evidence of those vaccines, whether it is Pfizer or the AstraZeneca, which is available right now in significant quantities for many people in the community, including more elderly residents in the community.

It is a safe vaccine. It is a vaccine with reduced risk of side-effects compared to just about any other medication that we use in our everyday lives. Indeed, it is an opportunity for those residents to increase their own safety and for all residents, particularly those who have elderly family members, such as those that the member for Frome refers to, to get vaccinated so that when they visit their family members they reduce the risk of transmission as well. In relation to the detail of the numbers, I expect they have increased between June and August, so I will take that question, as a fresh question, on notice.