A state government decision to redirect Pfizer doses from regional NSW to Sydney year 12 students has been met with mixed responses on the Border.
Pfizer supplies in GPs will be unaffected by a reallocation of some jabs to Sydney, NSW Health says.
But people with existing first-dose bookings through state facilities could be affected, and "will be contacted as soon as possible if their booking is going to be impacted".
Albury Wodonga Health's supply is through the Victorian network and thus unaffected.
Up to 40,000 Pfizer doses will be allocated from NSW Health's rural and regional supply for vaccination of year 12 students in LGAs in south-west and western Sydney, "and will be sourced from supplies across rural and regional NSW to ensure no one area is impacted".
"NSW Health can assure those in regional NSW who have had a first Pfizer dose they will receive their second dose," their statement said.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian told journalists yesterday the move was based off her chief health officer's advice and said, "In a pandemic, you have to make difficult decisions".
"I don't think anybody would begrudge us doing everything we can to get year 12 students safely back to schools," she said.
"Where perhaps the other states haven't been as generous, (to) our own rural and regional New South Wales, who've stuck by us and we've stuck by them through thick and thin, we're one team ... I want to say thank you."
Ms Berejiklian said the biggest challenge in the roll-out in the bush was "making points of access available".
"There are more than 100 sites now across rural and regional NSW, plus a lot of regional pharmacies that are being stood up," she said.
"The access points for the vaccine have increased, and it's really just putting a pause for a few weeks on some people in the bush, who want to get the Pfizer ... every adult can get the AstraZeneca."
To read the full statement go here.
Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network acting chief executive Julie Redway said none of the five Murrumbidgee vaccination hubs were impacted by the NSW Government announcement.
"Participating general practice and vaccination hubs are continuing to take bookings and people are still advised to check their eligibility and make a booking as soon as possible," she said.
"Please contact Murrumbidgee Local Health District for information or enquiries regarding NSW Health facilitated vaccination hubs."
Albury Mayor Kevin Mack supported the students getting the doses.
"They need to prioritise Sydney because that's where the outbreak is," he said.
"Everyone in regional NSW would understand that, I can't see any reason why we wouldn't support them at this point.
"We need to be a little bit unselfish about that and apply that to the process of getting it under control."
Cr Mack said the decision would have a minimal impact on vaccine supplies in Albury, as the Albury Wodonga Health vaccination hub was supplied by the Victoria Department of Health.
"Unless Victoria starts giving their vaccines away then I don't think its going to have any impact on us," he said.
Cr Mack said the year 12 students in Sydney needed to get back to school.
"It's an important part of their learning experience," he said.
"Unless they start changing the process, they wont change the outcomes."
In contrast, Murrumbidgee mayor Ruth McRae said if Sydney year 12 students were to be vaccinated, regional students should be vaccinated too.
"To prioritise urban Sydney HSC students is insulting and they are no more important than ours," she said.
"If you're going to do it, do it as a collective, and you don't take any of the Pfizer vaccinations away from our community until the regional and rural kids are done, or do them at the same time."
Can someone at the sydney presser ask the following for their regional colleagues:— Bridget Murphy (@bridgetrose97) July 28, 2021
- Will this disrupt second doses of Pfizer in regs NSW?
- Why is the HSC more important than regional health?
- What about regional students doing their HSC
Finley general practitioner Alam Yoosuff, who sits on the board of Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network and Murrumbidgee Local Health District, said he wasn't against the doses being redirected.
"What has to be done, has to be done," he said.
"We have a certain limited amount of stuff and everybody wants it and we have to prioritise to what is needed.
"I don't think NSW Health would have taken this with a light-hearted approach ... they've taken it in a calculated measure, I guess."
Dr Yoosuff said there would probably be a temporary "mess" while regional NSW adjusted to their vaccine delivery to the Pfizer supply.
"Maybe state run hubs will have less supply than what they already have, that might upset their booking system," he said.
"A few of those who are already booked might not get their doses, but that will allow them to look at general practices who are doing the Pfizer vaccines now.
"People who miss out through the state hubs will be able to redirect their access to the general practices."
Dr Yoosuff said if Sydney's outbreak was controlled it would help the nation.
"If the outbreak is better controlled, regional areas like us are going to do better, and ... the other states do better too," he said.
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Dr Yoosuff said the state and federal governments are giving a very strong message for 60 (years) and above people: don't bother waiting until Pfizer comes.
"Just go and get AstraZeneca ASAP," he said.
"Thirty to 40 per cent of people above 60 are not vaccinated as yet in the vast majority of jurisdictions.
"That is not a good outlook.
"Above 60-year-olds have miniscule or vanishing risks of clots.
"The message for the community is if you are 60 and above just go and get a vaccine."
Dr Yoosuff said 20 GP clinics in Murrumbidgee Local Health District are administering Pfizer and the number would double in a month.
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