After surviving World War II in Europe and living in Australia for over 70 years, Jane Malysiak on Sunday took centre stage on the vaccination frontline, becoming the first Australian to receive the coronavirus jab.
Born in Kosimszko, a small town in Poland, she was taken to Germany as a three-year-old amid the fighting.
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As a younger woman, Ms Malysiak ran a corner shop with her husband in the Sydney suburb of Earlwood.
Her two sons “don’t know I’m here”, she said, as she soaked up the busy event marking the vaccine’s entry into Australia.
She said she wasn’t scared of the vaccine and to give her “two shots of it”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison at Sydney’s Castle Hill Medical Centre ahead of receiving his Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.(ABC News: Rani Hayman)
Sitting by her side after the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine was administered, Prime Minister Scott Morrison paid tribute to her and all those who took part.
Ms Malysiak’s contribution and that of the diverse group who came forward demonstrated Australia’s confidence in the process, he said.
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“Jane Malysiak has seen many historic days in Australia over the course of her more than 80 years of life,” he said.
“To have her here, and so many others have joined us this is an historic day for Australia.”
It was a diverse group of people getting the first vaccinations in Sydney.(ABC News: Rani Hayman)
Ms Malysiak said she was excited to be out of her nursing home, and while surprised by all the fuss was very happy to be there.
“I didn’t expect such a lot of people, I just thought they’d do the jab and take two pictures,” she said
“Aussie is my country now.”
Paul Russell said he was honoured to be in the group.(ABC News)
‘Pure excitement’
Paul Russell, 74, lives at Blacktown nursing home, Mullauna.
He said it was a feeling of “pure excitement” to be getting one of the first jabs of the vaccine in Australia.
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“Well, I was asked on Friday night if I’d be interested and I said I was honoured because I know I’m one of the first in Australia to get it. I certainly wasn’t going to say no.”
It was the first time he had been out of the nursing home in 12 months “so it’s really lovely”, he said laughing.
Laurel Gray lives in a Sydney aged care facility.(ABC News)
Laurel Gray, 88, was born in the great depression, one of six children.
Another resident of Mullauna aged care facility, she said she didn’t have any qualms about the vaccine.
“I feel privileged to get it today and feel relieved that I’ll be covered in the event of anything happening. So I feel very lucky,” she said.
Corporal Chatillon is a hotel quarantine worker.(AAP: Joel Carrett)
Three experienced Australian Border Force [ABF] personnel, all working in frontline areas, were part of the group vaccinated on Sunday.
Alysha Eyre and Jon Buttenshaw are currently deployed to Aviation Traveller at Sydney International Airport.
Corporal Boyd Chatillon is a team leader in the government’s quarantine compliance monitoring (QCM) program at Sydney QCM hotels.
Nurse practitioner Katina Zetlein holds the first batch of the Pfizer vaccines at Sydney’s Castle Hill Medical Centre.(ABC News: Rani Hayman)
Ms Enriquez is on the frontline of managing COVID-19 as a nurse working at Castle Hill Medical Centre.
“As a trained nurse immuniser, I have had the opportunity to witness first hand the importance of vaccination and its impact in the wider community,” she said.
“Having an understanding on how unwell people can be with COVID, I think that the vaccine will not only help individuals but will collectively help Australia back to normality again one step at a time.”
The broader rollout of the Pfizer vaccine will start on Monday.(ABC News: Rani Hayman)
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