NSW’s top doctor has flagged a major shake-up of Sydney’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout to aid in the fight against the Delta outbreak.
Chief health officer Kerry Chant revealed yesterday morning that some of NSW Health’s walk-in vaccination hubs would start providing the AstraZeneca shot without an appointment, from as early as today.
It is not yet clear if the hubs will provide the vaccine to anyone under 40, but Dr Chant said further details would be provided.
Younger residents who want this vaccine have had to book an appointment with a GP to do so.
Dr Chant stressed that residents, especially those in hotspot areas, should get vaccinated, revealing pharmacists were also involved in the process.
Dr Chant said a number of pharmacies in south western Sydney were administering the jabs, including Bankstown, Bass Hill, Casula, Fairfield, Liverpool, and a “vast array of suburbs”.
“We see that pharmacy access to the vaccine will support the local community so please, AstraZeneca will be available through these pharmacies,” she said.
Experts at the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation issued a statement on Saturday advising all adults in Greater Sydney to “strongly consider getting vaccinated with any available vaccine” including AstraZeneca, as the region enters its fifth week of lockdown.
ATAGI had previously recommended Pfizer as the preferred immunisation for under 40s, though this remains in short supply and in high demand in Australia.
Dr Chant said on Thursday it was “distressing” how few people aged over 60 had taken the opportunity to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.
She said anyone who had the opportunity to get vaccinated should do so as soon as possible and with whatever type of vaccine available to them, because it takes a few weeks for the protection to kick in.
“It is actually quite distressing, when I review the numbers, to see how few over-60-year-olds and over-70-year-olds we have managed to reach,” she told reporters on Monday.
“Anyone who is over 60 or over 70 should be going to their doctor as a matter of urgency – or their pharmacist which will be opening up across the state in coming days – and get a dose of vaccine and please keep yourself safe.
“Vaccines are not a short-term solution. You don’t see any effect for about two to three weeks after, more like three weeks, but they are part of a complementary strategy to a very tight lockdown and working with impacted communities to really be part of the solution.”
Premier Berejiklian said she would hold a meeting this week with colleagues to decide how to proceed with coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
The meeting will hammer out “what life will look like” in NSW after Saturday, the day on which the greater Sydney lockdown was set to end.
“This week, today, in the next few days, on the back of health advice, but also in consultation with all of our officials, we’ll be making decisions about what life looks like beyond July 31 in NSW,” Gladys Berejiklian said on Monday.
“So we hope to provide announcements or updates to the community in the next few days.
“And I say to the community please be assured that our mission is to keep the community as safe as possible, but also to make sure we allow the community to live as freely as we can as well.”
The lockdown is expected to continue after the original Saturday end date, because the restrictions have so far failed to suppress the number of people who are active in the community while infected.
Ms Berejiklian has repeatedly said she wants to see that number come close to zero before lifting the lockdown.
But that goal has been elusive. At least 83 of Monday’s caseload of 145 locally infected people had spent some time in the community while infectious.
Ms Berejiklian flagged that some restrictions could tighten after Saturday, while some other rules could be relaxed.
However it wasn’t clear exactly which rules the officials were considering changing.
“There’s no doubt that some restrictions have better effect than others and that is the advice, we’ll get from our health experts, as well as, obviously, in consultation with other officials and I look forward to providing information on that in the next few days,” the premier said.