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10 Jun 2021


SSI offices turned into vaccination hub for asylum seeking communities

Doctors prepare the Pfizer vaccine before it is administered.

In just our first day of operation, approximately 40 community members seeking asylum in Australia received the Pfizer vaccine and has an optional consultation with the on-site doctor.

Western Sydney Local Health District, with the support of SSI and NSW Refugee Health, will continue to provide vaccinations out of the Parramatta office for approximately the next six weeks.

Yamamah Agha, General Manager Service Delivery – Settlement, received her own vaccination alongside community members and reiterated the value in the government collaborating with community organisations such as SSI.

“By running this initiative out of a familiar location and providing in-language support through trusted staff, we have been able to support vulnerable community members to feel comfortable taking the vaccine,” said Yamamah.

“I got the vaccine to show our clients there is no harm in this and that, in fact, it is a way of fighting the spread of the COVID-19 virus. The only way to eliminate the risk and the impact of the pandemic is to become immune, and the only safe way to do this to to get the vaccine.”

Yamamah receiving her first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Yamamah receiving her first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Thanga Chandramoulieswaran, an SSI case worker, was one of several bilingual staff and translators who supported individuals through the vaccine process last Thursday.

She shared that several of the people seeking asylum who attended vaccine appointments had additional medical conditions they had to consider when receiving the vaccine.

One of these people, Aayansh* has multiple medical concerns, including a serious heart condition. As a result, he had reasonable medical questions and was in two minds about whether he would get the vaccine.

“In preparation for his appointment, Aayansh was asked to get a medical report and bring all of his medications. Before his appointment, he had a consultation with the on-site doctor who was able to answer all his questions and give him informed advice about the safety and importance of getting the vaccine,” said Ms Chandramoulieswaran

“This gave him confidence and he agreed to get the vaccine. He was very well supported throughout the process and is doing well.”.

Individuals from asylum seeking backgrounds face several social determinates, such as limited access to in-language information, limited medical services, and food and housing insecurity, that can increase their risk of being negatively affected by COVID-19 and other viruses.

So, the preventive measure of receiving in-language information on, and access to, the COVID-19 vaccine is highly beneficial for these individuals, their communities, and consequently the wider Australian community.

If you are from an asylum-seeking background and want to learn more, contact our Parramatta office on (02) 9685 0100.

If you have questions around the COVID-19 vaccine or virus, visit SSI’s in-language community platform here:

*Pseudonym used to protect the individual’s privacy.

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