Why not snag a vaccine while you pick up gardening supplies? It’s not the craziest idea to come out of the pandemic.
It seems hardware superstore Bunnings might be willing to help lend wings to the federal government’s proposed 12-week vaccine “sprint”.
While no firm proposal has yet been put forward by the retail giant, and discussions with health authorities and government agencies haven’t begun, the company hasn’t ruled out the possibility.
(Sadly, the lack of firm action means no one has yet decided if sausages and onions will be handed out along with vital coronavirus jabs.)
The Guardian reported on Thursday morning that Bunnings had extended an “open offer” to become a hub.
“We’ve previously supported the government and the community by hosting COVID-19 testing in some of our store car parks and we’re always open to discussing further support directly with the government,” chief operating officer Deb Poole clarified later in the morning.
So, it’s not a “no way”. But combining sausages and needles no doubt comes with some logistical concerns.
Experts theorised that the suggestion makes sense and could have benefits beyond providing a location for vaccines to be administered.
La Trobe University epidemiologist Hassan Vally said seeing others being vaccinated at a convenient and oft-frequented location such as a Bunnings carpark would boost community confidence.
“Everyone in the population seems to end up at Bunnings with some frequency … they’re convenient for people to get to,” Dr Vally said.
“Most people haven’t seen a vaccination occur in person. So, if you’re going into a Bunnings a few times and you keep passing the vaccinations, then the next time you’re on your way out with your potting mix, you’ll go up and ask.”
Bunnings would not be the first company to jump on the vaccine train, with National Australia Bank making a similar offer earlier in April. NAB is one of the country’s biggest employers, with more than 30,000 staff.
CEO Ross McEwan told a parliamentary inquiry the bank could make vaccines available to its workers, just as it does for annual flu shots.
“Last week as I had my flu shot at work, I was considering how large employers like NAB could assist with the rollout of the [COVID-19] vaccine,” Mr McEwan said.
“We would be happy to do so at the right time.”
National cabinet will meet on Thursday – for the second time this week – to discuss plans to supercharge Australia’s laggardly COVID vaccine rollout.
- Related: Broader, faster rollout plans
It comes just a day after mass vaccination hubs opened in Victoria, with the state’s chief health officer Brett Sutton presenting for his first shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine. All Victorians over 70 can now head to one of three hubs – with more on the way – to get a vaccine dose.
Professor Sutton played down the risks of rare blood clot side effects from the AstraZeneca shot. Encouraged all Australians to get a jab, he said the risks were higher from a “long haul flight”.
“You are more likely to get a clot at whatever age you are on a long-haul flight to Europe or North America than getting this jab,” Professor Sutton said.
Also on Wednesday, the Victorian government promised to invest $50 million to help “kickstart” the production of Pfizer and Moderna-style vaccines, which use mRNA technology.
Acting Premier James Merlino said it would take at least a year for Melbourne facilities to start producing the vaccines.