Victoria’s Spring Racing Carnival is heating up as Australia’s best staying horses toil their way toward the race that stops the nation.

But there is a more important race this year that can start the nation up again and the field is already set to go. Grampians Public Health Unit’s Dr Rob Grenfell wants Wimmera Mallee towns to enter the COVID Cup and he is already studying their form.

Dr Grenfell said the most important race this year was the race to get the country vaccinated against COVID-19.

“Our region has a strong sporting heritage and our towns love to compete with each other, especially neighbouring towns where the rivalry is always at its fiercest,” Dr Grenfell said.

“So for your town to win the COVID Cup, it just needs to be first to get to 99% full vaccination.”

Dr Grenfell said community sport and spring events had been severely disrupted in the region.

“The COVID Cup is a unique ‘one-off’ event that can instil community pride and give everyone something to follow and support,” he said.

“The Victorian Premier has set the target for opening up the community a little in the first week of November when we should reach an average of 80% second dose.

“While that result is a very serious matter, we can have a bit of fun with the race that starts the nation.

“For starters you can expect a sudden rule change from time to time and we can look at a form guide and regular updates as the race is called.

“As the gates open I would like to be on Kaniva or Birchip because those town are already at 100% for first dose but there are plenty of towns that could chase down the front runners.”

Below are the league tables for the first dose vaccine across our towns/postcodes.

Dr Grenfell said there were many tricks to prepare for the race and many ways to lift in performance.

“I reckon if 30 or so of the residents of Serviceton were to amble down to the local vaccination centre, they would move from the bottom to the top quite quickly,” he said.

“We will be enlisting our rather ‘out-of-work’ sports writers to help us get the form of the runners into line for a big finish.

“If we can lift our rates over the whole region, we could then take on a bigger region like Ballarat.”

Dr Grenfell said our communities had certainly felt the effect of the virus on so many parts of our daily lives.

“It is certainly not going to stop anytime soon. There are some important steps we can all take to reduce the risk of serious illness from the virus and that is to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

“You also need to continue to follow the public health directions. This protects you and your community and reduces the pressure on our health services."

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