We are fortunate here in Wiimali, as unlike other rural regions, we have a GP Super Clinic. I’m really happy about that because not only does the Wiimali community have ready access to a range of health services, but I have a designated clinical area that I can use as an Authorised Nurse Immunisation Provider, to run an immunisation clinic once a month.
It is extremely important that the vaccines have been stored appropriately, and that the ‘cold chain’ has not been broken. The fact that I have my own purpose built vaccine fridge (PBVR) makes a huge difference to my peace of mind, and after checking the fridge temperature monitor I am reassured that the vaccines I will be giving have not been compromised and will still do what they are designed to do.
Each month I set up this free drop in clinic, and expect mothers, babies and children of all ages and from a range of cultural backgrounds to appear. I like the drop in nature of the clinic as it seems to suit most mothers, who find it understandably difficult to make strict appointment times when they are juggling the demands of a newborn babe plus perhaps another child who is adjusting to the arrival of a new brother or sister.
Today, the first to arrive is Suli, a Sudanese mother and her 6 children, ages from 6/12 to 15 years, from one of our recently arrived refugee groups and immediately I have an instant crowd!
Although Suli has some recollection that the children were immunised when they first arrived in Australia, she is unsure what they were and these records have inadvertently been left at the original camp, so until I can get them faxed through to me and I can verify what has been given, I won’t be able to proceed with their vaccination according to Australia’s National Immunisation Program (NIP). I feel apprehensive because it has been quite an outing for Suli to get herself and her children here to the clinic by public transport. Reluctantly I tell Suli this, as the children energetically explore the waiting room and find the toys I have left out for them, they don’t seem to mind! Luckily she is happy to wait while I make a few calls to get the information I need. Eventually, after about 40 minutes- the fax machine spits out the records for the children and I can check their immunisation status. Only two of the children are due for a booster vaccination, the 15 year old and the 4 year old, while the other children are up to date. Surprisingly, these two are very cooperative as I give them their shots, I must say it helps when they are being brave in front of siblings!
Other mothers come in later and towards lunchtime, but mostly they require components of the NIP and they all have their Blue books, so the remainder of the clinic is relatively uneventful.
Story by Alice