Carlton COVID vaccine clinic opens for public housing residents 16 and over

Carlton COVID vaccine clinic opens for public housing residents 16 and over

Words by Rachael Fleury

To encourage vulnerable residents to be immunised, pop-up COVID-19 vaccine clinics have opened up at six public housing towers around Melbourne, and anyone from the towers aged 16 and over is eligible.

The clinics are a joint initiative between the state government and community health service, Cohealth, and the newest clinic opened at 483 Drummond St in Carlton during mid-June. 

Cohealth chief executive Nicole Bartholomeusz said it was vital the vaccine reached public housing residents as people living in high-density housing were more at risk of contracting COVID-19.

“People living in high-density accommodation are more at risk of COVID transmission due to shared spaces such as entries and exits and other common areas. On top of that, people living in public housing are more likely to have chronic health conditions or disabilities which make them more vulnerable to COVID-19,” Ms Bartholomeusz said.

Ms Bartholomeusz also said that taking the vaccination to where people had the highest needs was important in achieving equitable access to vaccinations.

“Language barriers, low health literacy or lack of access to the internet means that not everyone can navigate the health system equally,” she said.

Following the recent surge in cases of the highly contagious Delta strain of COVID-19 across Australia, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt urged eligible Australians to come forward and get immunised.

“The simple message is do not wait. If you catch COVID-19, you could die,” Mr Hunt said.

To assist with the uptake of the vaccinations, the Department of Health has funded a “health concierge” program where almost 100 public housing residents have been trained by Cohealth to work in the high-rise towers where they live.

Cohealth health concierge Hodon Noor is based at the Carlton housing towers and said her job was to help dispel myths and misconceptions about COVID-19 vaccines by talking to residents in a way they understood, including in their native languages. 

Ms Noor speaks three languages, and collectively, the health concierges at all the sites speak 10.

“They [the residents] trust us because they know us,” Ms Noor said.


People have lots of questions about the vaccine … I’m not here to persuade them to take the vaccine. I’m here to answer questions and give them accurate information, so they can make the decision that’s right for them.


The Carlton pop-up clinic is a six-day service, operating Monday to Saturday, 10.30am to 4.30pm, and no appointment is needed to receive the vaccination.

Although anyone from the public housing towers over the age of 16 is eligible for a vaccine, residents are still governed by the same rules as other Australians, and those under 60 will receive Pfizer while those over 60 will receive the Astra Zeneca vaccine.

Cohealth community health nurse Xi Chen said that the take-up rate of the vaccine had so far been good as many residents had come from countries where vaccines had successfully eliminated other fatal viruses.

“People here understand how valuable vaccines are,” Ms Chen said.

“The lines are never too long, so people don’t have to wait. And they get a lollipop at the end.”  •

Caption: Cohealth concierge Hodon Noor.

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