Genuine support from trusted rural health professionals increases vaccine uptake

Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Sue MacKinnon hails from the UK, but says she feels privileged to part of Australia’s vaccination program to help protect her local community of Bega in south-east NSW against the COVID-19 virus.

As a nurse, Sue feels a responsibility to be a role model by being vaccinated is encouraging others to get their shots as soon as they’re eligible.

Sue believes the COVID-19 vaccine is an important preventive health measure and tackles any hesitancy among her GP clinic’s patients by simply being genuine.

“I think the key really is communicating and just making sure everybody feels in the loop and can share their frustrations.

"I mean, I’m a bit of a Pollyanna, but trying to avoid being totally Pollyanna-mode and just recognising the issues and working together to come up with solutions.

“One of the keys is preparing people for potential side effects and explaining that if they have the flu-like symptoms, it's actually their body mounting an immune response. And I've had people stop me in the street going, ‘you know what, my body mounted a really good immune response’.

“That's a really good way to turn something that people perceive as negative into a positive really.”

Sue acknowledges that small towns, where residents are known to each other and are well connected, can lead to rumours. So, she is using that to her advantage to spread the word about the positives of vaccination.  

“I go into every consultation with the facts and when residents have a positive outcome I recommend that they tell their friends and associates.”

Sue has personal experience of the tragedy and sadness of the pandemic.

“I'm from the UK and lots of my family have had COVID and lots of my friends have lost people and they all have stories about absolutely terrible outcomes.

“I think we've been so lucky and so blessed here in Australia. So, for me, this has been great to be able to feel as if I'm really doing my part in keeping my community safe, keeping Australia safe and working towards opening up the borders and getting back to normal.”