Essential workers in Victoria's fresh produce supply chain are doing their part, rolling up their sleeves and getting the Covid-19 vaccination while at work.
For three weeks, beginning Monday 23 August, a vaccination hub has been set up in Victoria's epicentre for fresh produce, the Melbourne Wholesale Market in Epping.
Over 10,000 people use the Melbourne Market as a base for buying fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers in the early hours of the morning. Every one of the 10,000 Melbourne Market access cardholders will be eligible to receive the Covid-19 vaccine at the Melbourne Market vaccination hub.
Melbourne Market Authority chief executive, Mark Maskiell, said the organisation was pleased to see so many market users keen to roll up their sleeves.
“Almost all fresh produce found at local greengrocers, independent supermarkets, restaurants and cafes in Victoria is sold here at the Melbourne Market. So having as many of our market community vaccinated as possible goes a long way in helping to protect Victoria's fresh produce supply chain," said Maskiell.
Austin Health is leading the rollout of the vaccination programme across Melbourne's northeast and is running the vaccination hub at the Melbourne Market in partnership with the Department of Health.
"Austin Health has been fantastic; they have been able to accommodate our request to run the clinic overnight and into the early hours of the morning. We appreciate they've gone the extra mile to cater to the unique needs of the market community,” said Maskiell.
The businesses that operate and buy from the Melbourne Market have continued to work through the pandemic, ensuring the best in fruit, vegetables and flowers continues to get out to Victorians.
Many of these businesses are small family-run operations such as independent supermarkets, greengrocers, florists and farmers. In addition, most of the fresh produce that goes into the takeaway food fuelling Victorians and keeping many restaurants and cafes surviving during the lockdown is sourced directly from the Melbourne Market.
Melbourne Market's essential workers do long hours, they are working a night shift, and some even go back to their farms once Market trade finishes each morning to do even more work on fields and crops. A vaccination clinic on-site at the Market has provided these hard-working individuals with one less thing they have to organise.
Market wholesaler Michael Barker, chief executive of Barkers Fresh Produce, was one of the first in line with his staff members when doors to the vaccination hub opened at 3 am on the first day.
"Having a vaccination hub set up at the Market has made it so much easier for myself and my staff to get vaccinated. We walked up, got the jab and 15 minutes later, we were back at work. Having the clinic on site is a great initiative,” explained Barker.
The vaccination hub at the Melbourne Market is helping to ensure as many essential workers in the fresh produce supply chain have the opportunity to be vaccinated as quickly and efficiently as possible. It’s reported a total 250 vaccinations were administered on the first day.