Cootamundra's over-fifties population are being urged to book an appointment with their general practitioner as the next stage of COVID-19 vaccinations roll out.
As of Monday, May 3, anyone over the age of 50 in the Murrumbidgee region is eligible to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine under the National COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout.
GP and Principal of the Wagga Vaccination Hub Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said everyone should at least consider getting vaccinated.
"This is the safest vaccine, we encourage everyone to get it," he said.
"Like anything, there are potential side effects, but it is important to discuss those instead of ruling it out entirely."
While the new Phase 2a cohort of 50 to 69-year-olds is now allowed the vaccine, those in phase 1a and 1b will continue to be prioritised.
However, Associate Professor Shenouda said there were plenty of appointments and doses available at this stage to treat everyone interested.
For some, the hesitancy to get vaccinated rested with a lack of understanding.
"While it can be tempting to turn to Google for those 'answers', it's best to come in and speak with us," Associate Professor Shenouda said.
"We will always inform you of the pros and cons, and potential side effects verses the benefits before we give out any vaccine, and if at the end of the day you still decide you aren't comfortable with getting it, we will never force it on you."
Associate Professor Shenouda said it was interesting to get an insight into how other countries were operating in terms of rolling out the vaccine, and the impact that played on local decisions.
"I had one lady come to get vaccinated here who was initially not going to," he said.
"She said she was talking to her sister in the UK who was shocked that this woman in Wagga was not going to get vaccinated.
"The UK sister was worried about stock and missing out on her second dose, whereas the Wagga sister was hesitant to get it at all, so in the end it was her sister's experience that convinced her it was a good decision to get the vaccine."
The Phase 2a cohort is being carried out at vaccination hubs in Wagga, Young, Gundagai, Griffith and Deniliquin.
Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network's Acting CEO Julie Redway said regional vaccination hubs remain a critical part of the national rollout.
"With our region's vaccination hubs now able to vaccinate anyone from Phase 1a and 1b cohorts, and those eligible over the age of 50 years in the 2a cohort, more people in our community can be vaccinated against the virus," she said.
To check your eligibility for a vaccine, visit covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au/eligibility. If you are eligible, you will be redirected to book or find a service near you.