No vaccine in town yet, but it's coming

No vaccine in town yet, but it's coming

Contrary to reports of the COVID vaccine becoming available at local GP clinics this week, all three surgeries (Dr Pilgrim's Surgery, Rouse St Medical Centre and Tenterfield Medical Centre) report there's no vaccine in town, and unlikely to be so for several weeks.

The newly re-opened Naas St Clinic alongside Tenterfield Hospital advises it won't be involved in the vaccination program.

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All three GP surgeries are approved to eventually administer the two-dose vaccine so the vast majority of local residents will have ready access, but they're being urged to be patient as logistics are being worked out.

When the vaccine does arrive, hopefully in the later half of April, surgeries are expected to receive only 50 doses of AstraZeneca per week so it will take some time to get across the whole population.

The rollout is currently in Phase 1B, making only those aged 70 and over (55 and over for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people), healthcare workers, and those with chronic disease or other disability eligible for the jab.

Dr Pilgrim's practice manager Jenny Shearman said there are 10 doses to a vial of vaccine, so multiples of 10 patients will be served in special clinics.

The vaccination is free for the patient, thanks to the assignment of a special Medicare item number. No other treatments will be administered at the same time, however, to streamline the process.

All staff at Dr Pilgrim's practice have completed the special online training and more are being put on to reach out to its eligible patients to book in a flu vaccination after Easter. This will allow the minimum two-week gap before the COVID vaccine can be administered.

A second COVID vaccination is required 12 weeks later, ideally but not necessarily back at the same practice.

While in a perfect world these patients would be booked in for their second shot at the time of receiving the first vaccination, Ms Shearman said this won't be practical given the supply issues.

Similarly Dr Sunil's Tenterfield Medical Centre is awaiting supplies and the official go-ahead. At that time staff will be reaching out to eligible patients registered with them. Other eligible people will also be invited to make appointments for their vaccination when supplies become available.

The Rouse St Medical Centre's plans for its rollout have yet to be determined.

So the advice is to be patient and wait for your GP to reach out to you to make arrangements.

Even once you've received the jab clinic staff are required to observe you for 15 minutes (30 minutes for those with a history of anaphylaxis) and records have to be uploaded to the vaccination registry, so doctors surgeries are anticipating a big workload.

Meanwhile Tenterfield Care Centre awaits an update on when the team contracted to administer jabs to staff and residents of Haddington Nursing Home and Millrace Aged Hostel will arrive.