A new public vaccination campaign has kicked off in Queensland promoting the COVID-19 jab in a bid to increase vaccination rates among the State’s Indigenous population.

The Make the Choice campaign encourages First Nations people to yarn with their local Aboriginal Medical Service to understand the vaccine and what it means for their overall health and wellbeing.

It’s a joint initiative between the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council (QAIHC), the Institute of Urban Indigenous Health (IUIH), and Queensland Health.

The campaign centres around the Make the Choice website, which is intended to act as an information hub for mob who are concerned about getting the vaccine.

Chief Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Officer and proud Yalanji and Tagalaka woman, Haylene Grogan, and QAIHC Chair and Byellee man, Matthew Cooke, appeared in a campaign video getting the vaccine and spoke about why it’s important to get it.

“We need to protect our mob, and the only way to protect our mob is to get vaccinated,” Grogan said in the video.

“There is a lot of information circulating and we know it can get confusing — we want to give our people the opportunity to talk about making the right choice for them,” Cooke said.

“Make the Choice is about providing a central hub of information for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in Queensland to support these important conversations, both in community and with clinicians.”

The campaign features artwork titled Our New World Together by artist Jeddess Hudson, a proud Ewamian and Western Yalanji woman of North Queensland.

Grogan said the artwork will add instant recognisability to the Make the Choice campaign.

“This artwork is broken up into different sections which shows the complexities and challenges that COVID-19 brings into our daily lives, and highlights the connections and journey that both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and cultures face,” she said.

“We know people want to read and hear information from trusted sources to help them make an informed choice about their health.”

Queensland Minister for Health Yvette D’Ath said the goal is to have everyone that wants to be vaccinated — vaccinated.

“All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, youth and adults aged 12 and over are now eligible to receive their vaccination at a Queensland Health vaccination centre or their local community-controlled health service,” she said.

NIT understands the difference in vaccination figures between Queensland’s Indigenous and general populations prompted the campaign, as well as greater availability of vaccines.

In a speech in Parliament today, Minister D’Ath said the rate of vaccinations remains low for Queensland’s First Nations people.

“Over 42,000 First Nations Queenslanders have made the choice and stepped up to be vaccinated, with over half of that number fully immunised,” she said.

“While this is a positive start, the vaccination rate for our First Nations Queenslanders aged 16 and over is almost half the broader Queensland population.

“I thank those First Nations people who have already made the choice to get vaccinated and protect themselves, their family and their community. I encourage all to take up this option.”

As of August 31, 50.56 per cent of Queensland’s eligible population had received one dose of a vaccine, with 31.7 per cent having received a second.

For more information about how Queensland mob can get vaccinated, visit www.makethechoice.com.au.

By Sarah Smit