Melbourne vaccine centres forced to close after staff cop 'ugly' abuse

Two Melbourne vaccination hubs have been forced to close due to “ugly” ongoing protest action in the CBD which led to staff members being spat at and abused.

Cohealth confirmed its Central City and Melbourne Town Hall vaccination centres had been temporarily shut down with an aim to reopen on Monday, following “several incidents” of physical and verbal abuse.

“I am distressed to report that there have been several incidents of Cohealth health workers being physically and verbally abused in the city while on their way to work, targeted because they were wearing their Cohealth identification,” CEO Nicole Bartholomeusz said.

LIVE UPDATES: Melbourne vaccine hubs close due to ‘ugly’ protester abuse

“Due to the increasingly violent and unpredictable nature of the protests in the city, we have made the difficult decision to close the Cohealth Melbourne Town Hall vaccination Centre as well as our Central City homelessness service, and our street-based outreach services until Monday.”

The closure means at least 200 people per day will no longer be able to get vaccinated at Melbourne Town Hall and people experiencing homelessness can no longer access vital support services at Central City.

Ms Bartholomeusz said the decision to close the centres was made with a heavy heart, but all staff deserved to be safe at work.

READ MORE: Outrage over ‘disgraceful’ protests at Shrine of Remembrance

“I am shocked at the treatment of people who deserve nothing but our utmost gratitude and praise for working throughout the pandemic to ensure everyone gets the support and healthcare they need,” she said.

“The Cohealth Melbourne Town Hall vaccination Centre was opened as a safe place for people to come to get vaccinated if they are facing disadvantage, so shutting the doors is a very difficult decision.”

© Nine Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has slammed protesters in Melbourne CBD.

Premier Daniel Andrews today condemned the “appalling behaviour” towards vaccination staff at Melbourne’s Town Hall.

“These people are doing the very best of work,” Mr Andrews said.

“They’re vaccinating people for heaven’s sake. They’re providing people with no certainty … that they will not become gravely ill.

“Why would you abuse, why would you, as I’m told, be spitting on people who are doing that sort of work.

“That’s ugly. It’s uncalled for.

“I’m not sure whether those people can be identified but if they can, it would be my expectation that Victoria Police would deal with them.”

READ MORE: Victoria Police granted ‘no fly zone’ over Melbourne’s CBD

Protesters had been targeting vaccine staff in uniform, with Cohealth instructing staff to refrain from wearing their lanyards or scrubs in the city to avoid attacks.

“We condemn all acts of harassment and violence and stand in steadfast support of all Victorian health workers,” Ms Bartholomeusz said.

“We are currently working with the affected staff member to ensure they get the support they need.”

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