Western Sydney University healthcare students to help rollout COVID-19 vaccinations

Medical, nursing, paramedicine and other allied health students from Western Sydney University are set to deliver all-important COVID-19 vaccinations to Year 12 students from across Sydney’s south-west and west –  a move aimed to help protect the HSC students’ health and keep their final-year studies on track.

More than 70 students from across the University’s healthcare disciplines have already put their hands up to be part of the ‘Western students for Western students’ initiative, being coordinated by Western Sydney Local Health District, which will vaccinate affected Year 12s from across the Local Government Areas (LGAs) of concern.

The Western Sydney University students will form part of a much-needed surge workforce to support the new mass vaccination hub located at Qudos Bank Arena, starting Monday 9 August.

Pro Vice-Chancellor Health and Medicine at Western Sydney University, Distinguished Professor Annemarie Hennessy AM, said students from across the University’s healthcare disciplines were more than ready, willing and able to roll up their sleeves in support of NSW’s fight against this latest COVID-19 outbreak.

“When we put the call out to be part of a program to fast-track vaccinations for Year 12s from across the affected LGAs, many of our students came forward wanting to put their skills to use and help,” said Professor Hennessy.

“This is an excellent initiative that is set to make an enormous difference to the students and our local communities of western and south-western Sydney at this critical time.

“It will lift vaccination rates and help keep our Year 12 students – who have had their learning so disrupted by this pandemic – safe in the classroom and able to focus on their final year exams.”

Professor Hennessy said the commitment is another practical way the University is supporting the extraordinary COVID-19 health response underway across Greater Western Sydney, having already rapidly established testing clinics on our Parramatta campus and continuing to support our Local Health Districts, on the ground.

“At the heart of this response is our students, the majority of whom hail from the region themselves. They have shown time and time again they understand and are passionate about standing with their local communities – particularly within our heartland of southwest and western Sydney – and are eager to meet and overcome the challenges created by this pandemic, together,” she said.

Student profile - Laura Beaumont

Laura Beaumont is a third-year medical student at Western Sydney University who lives in Llandilo.

Laura was one of the first volunteers for the ‘Western students for Western students’ program – mobilising Western Sydney University students from across the health disciplines to help vaccinate Year 12 students from Sydney’s west and south-west.

She said her and her fellow students will be involved in helping deliver vaccinations at the new mass vaccination hub being established at Qudos Bank Arena.

“Our primary role will be to put our skills into practice and support the vaccination of Year 12 students in the affected LGAs in western Sydney and south-western Sydney, so they can ultimately get back safely to the classroom,” explained Laura.

Laura, who is originally from a small rural town in the Hunter Valley, and now lives in Llandilo in Sydney’s west, said from the start of the pandemic, she and her fellow medical students wanted to help make a worthwhile contribution to the COVID response.

“Seeing how seriously the doctors are taking the situation and hearing stories from nurses and doctors working in COVID-19 wards – I have been shocked in particular at how many younger people have become unwell,” she said.

“This is one of the reasons I jumped at the chance to be part of the student workforce – I hope it will help boost vaccination rates and make a real difference in our local communities, particularly for the people of south-west and western Sydney.”

Growing up in a rural community herself, Laura’s town didn’t have a local GP. Seeing the impact of this, combined with her love of science and medicine and desire to make a difference in people’s lives, saw her apply to Western Sydney University through the Rural Entry Admission Scheme.

“I’m excited to return to my rural upbringing once I graduate and to take my skills back to the community – I’d be very happy to ultimately work in a small country town,” said Laura.

“I’m really enjoying my degree, so much so, that my brother, who is a little older and currently working as a carpenter has seen how much I love working in medicine, that he is now looking to apply to the University to study medicine too.”