Indigenous vaccination against COVID-19 continues to rise, with 25 per cent of Australia’s First Nations people having now received their first jab.

Nearly 144,000 people have now received at least one dose of a vaccine and more than 66,000, or 11.5 per cent, have received their second dose.

More than 100 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (ACCHS) across 158 sites are rolling out the vaccine across Australia, with both Pfizer and AstraZeneca available for uptake.

Former AFL player turned broadcaster Tony Armstrong is now among those who have received the first dose of the vaccine.

The Barranbinya man said getting his vaccine was easy and important for protecting his mob.

“Getting my first dose of the Pfizer vaccine today at the Victorian Aboriginal Health Service was a really simple process,” he said.

“The whole process took about half an hour. I was a little nervous at the beginning — I thought it might hurt. I will be back to get my next dose which will be in 21 days [and] I’m looking forward to it,” he said.

Armstrong said getting the jab is the right thing to do.

“The more of us who get vaccinated the better protected we are — not just for ourselves but for the people around us.”

“I know there can be some hesitancy out there but it is the right thing to do and the more of us who get vaccinated the quicker we can get the country going again,” he said.

“We have to think about our Elders who could be more susceptible to symptoms. We have to look after them by coming in to get vaccinated. That way we are looking after our Elders, our community, and those around us.”

Registered nurse Melodie Cameron works at the Victorian Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and is part of the COVID-19 response team.

Cameron stressed the importance of continuing to engage and communicate with community.

“Our members have been doing an incredible job with that since day one of the COVID-19 pandemic,” she said.

“We have seen community being extremely proactive with their own health and there’s evidence of that with a strong uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine across the State.”

Cameron said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria have one of the highest uptakes of the COVID-19 vaccine in Australia.

“This is a credit to the hardworking staff at ACCHOs across Victoria who have worked tirelessly to support community throughout multiple COVID-19 outbreaks.

“These results have shown the crucial role community-controlled health organisations play in protecting and advancing the mental health and wellbeing of community.”

By Sarah Smit