The states are taking the lead on expediting the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines across Australia, with NSW, South Australia, Queensland and Western Australia ramping up their immunisation delivery infrastructure this week.
Major announcements coming from NSW, SA, Queensland and WA on Monday flag a turning point for the states as wide-spread vaccination against COVID-19 gets underway.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian told a press conference in Sydney that the priority for her state was to get risk categories of the population jabbed first but the approach was ‘full steam ahead’ on vaccines for most age groups. That includes almost 1 million adults in the state who are aged in their 40s.
“There are nearly 3 million people over the age of 50 in NSW, and in the 40s alone that’s nearly 1 million adults. At the moment demand is outstripping supply and we have a long queue of people waiting and that’s a positive,” Berejiklian said.
“We’re full steam ahead on vaccines for all cohorts — when you have strong foundations it means you can scale up very quickly. We’re making sure that we’re getting jabs in arms as quickly and as safely as possible.”
A total of 26 NSW Health hubs across the state are now offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to over 50s, including one at the Sydney Olympic Park site and across 17 hubs in regional and rural areas.
NSW Health figures show that an additional 85,000 AstraZeneca jabs have been delivered to patients by general practitioners (GPs) in the state last week.
“It is critical to vaccinate our citizens as quickly and as safely as possible,” Berejiklian said.
The NSW government wants more people to book their vaccination so that the population can be ready to safely reopen its borders to international visitors as soon as possible.
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— Gladys Berejiklian (@GladysB) May 24, 2021
More than 1 million jabs in arms have been dispensed in NSW, thanks to the group of GPs, clinics and hubs that the premier referred to as ‘Team NSW’, with 345,393 shots made by NSW Health and 745,379 by GPs and related providers to date.
NSW Health minister Brad Hazzard cautioned against complacency, underscoring the experience of countries like Taiwan, Singapore and South Korea, which had succeeded in the early days of the virus in suppressing community spread. Australia did not want to experience the resurgence of COVID-19 that these countries have, Mr Hazzard said.
“Complacency can kill. If and when an outbreak occurs in NSW, the rush to get vaccinated will be great, so as soon as you are eligible we urge you to get vaccinated,” he said.
According to the ABC, from May 25 anyone over the age of 16 and living in country South Australia will be eligible to get a COVID-19 vaccine through a booking system on the SA Health website. The NT was the first place in the country to make the vaccine available to people as young as 16 and SA is the first Australian state to offer the jab to this younger age group.
The Pfizer vaccine will be available at some regional SA vaccination sites for those aged under 50, while other sites will only offer the AstraZeneca shot for people over 50.
“We’ve worked very hard to increase our country capacity,” SA premier Steven Marshall said.
“It’s really important that when people are eligible to go and have their jab, that’s exactly and precisely what they do.”
On Monday the Queensland government also announced 14 new community-based vaccination hubs would be operational by the end of July, their openings to coincide with increased vaccine supply by the federal government, expected in the last quarter of this year.
Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said that she did not want ‘an ounce of the COVID-19 vaccines to go to waste’ as people in the state aged between 40-49 are invited to register their interest for the Pfizer vaccine.
“Already, we have stood up Pfizer hubs at hospitals in every HHS across Queensland to provide greater vaccine accessibility,” Queensland Health minister Yvette D’Ath said.
“The Palaszczuk government will ensure that our vaccine rollout is accessible as possible, and these community vaccine hubs will further assist Queenslanders, no matter where they are, to get access to the vaccine.”
Meanwhile in Western Australia, young adults with underlying medical conditions and younger people living with a disability will be able to get their vaccine from a state-run clinic. The state government also announced that WA community clinics will begin providing the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to the Phase 1B cohort in the coming weeks.
Recent data from WA shows that the state is above the national average for public uptake of their first COVID vaccine shot. So far, more than 361,000 doses of the vaccine have been administered in Western Australia.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said the statistics were encouraging and thanked those who had ‘done their bit for the community’. He added that a new online booking system would help more eligible people get vaccinated.
“My priority is to ensure we have as many people vaccinated as possible which is why we need more people who are already eligible to roll up for WA and get the COVID-19 vaccine,” McGowan said.
“Making the vaccine available for more of the Phase 1B cohort through state-run clinics will assist in getting the vaccination rate up.”
WA’s new online booking system for the COVID-19 vaccines will be updated every 24 hours and features a list of the sites where eligible members of the public can get their shots, the recommended vaccine for their personal circumstances and an indication of how long between shots they will have.
“From this week, more than 300,000 Western Australians with chronic conditions or disability will also be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination through our state-run clinics,” WA Health minister Roger Cook said.
One of the state’s major vaccination hubs — located at the Claremont Showgrounds — will administer the AstraZeneca vaccine from May 31 (Mondays to Wednesdays) and the Pfizer vaccine is expected to be available from this hub in early June. Only selected WA clinics will be offering the Pfizer vaccine so far.
Advanced bookings for the jabs can be made by calling 13 26843 or via the online booking system at Roll up for WA.