OMICRON COVID-19 VARIANT NOW ON OUR ISLANDS The Covid-19 variant Omicron is now on our islands, and slowly spreading. The good news is that it is not spreading here, yet, to the degree it is elsewhere in Australia and that effects from the variant are far less debilitating than the original Alpha and Delta varieties. The impact of the spread is having a positive impact on vaccination rates, with more and more islanders seeking out the three varieties of vaccines. Just prior to going to press, Member for Redlands Kim Richards advised The Friendly Bay Islander that there were 44 positive cumulative cases on the SMB Islands and Coochiemudlo Island since 13 December 2021. North Stradbroke Island, aided by holidaymakers had slightly higher infections figures at 49. Other Redlands figures provided were: Thornlands 448; Victoria Point 244; Redland Bay 334; Alexandra Hills 255; Capalaba 315; Ormiston 131; Wellington Point 224; Birkdale 244; Thorneside 38 Sheldon / Mt Cotton 125; Carbrook 122; Cleveland 44. Kim Richards said these number would most probably continue to climb. “The one good thing out of this is that impact from Omicron is less harmful to the body with many in good health reporting relatively mild symptoms. “Being vaccinated has played a role here with it providing considerable protection. “The more we are vaccinated, the better chance we have of seeing this through and aiding protection and getting through this far more healthier than it might have been,” Kim Richards said. She also praised the Mater organisation for doing ‘a great job’ at managing good testing rates on the islands in addition to the testing on mainland. Vaccination rates in Queensland now exceed more than 90% double dose and high 80% for the single dose. Island vaccination surgeries and pharmacies report a huge increase in the number and rate of vaccinations. AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer are available from most. Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) should now be available from surgeries and pharmacies on our islands. You can use a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to check if you are likely to have COVID-19. Rapid antigen tests can be completed by you at home and should give a result within 15-30 minutes. The Federal Government announced on 6 January that concession card holders will be able to access up to 10 free RAT kits over the course of three months, at a maximum of five in a single month. They can be purchased by everyone else. Our pharmacies and surgeries on both Macleay and Russell Islands are offering vaccination, including Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna, depending on location. Just check out the listing below: WHERE TO GET VACCINATED ON OUR ISLANDS AND VACCINES AVAILABLE: There are five outlets on the Southern Bay islands - MACLEAY ISLAND MEDICAL CENTRE: AstraZeneca and Moderna. PHARMACY ESSENTIALS on Macleay Island: AstraZeneca and Pfizer. BAY ISLANDS MEDICAL SERVICE on both Macleay and Russell Islands: AstraZeneca, Moderna and Pfizer RUSSELL ISLAND PHARMACY: AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna On North Stradbroke Island - YULLI BURRI BA MEDICAL CENTRE at Dunwich: AstraZeneca and Pfizer. STRADBROKE MEDICAL CENTRE at Point Lookout: AstraZeneca and Pfizer.