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Canberra Today 15°/19° | Wednesday, November 29, 2023 | Digital Edition | Crossword & Sudoku

Canberra public get on board with AstraZeneca vaccinations

CALVARY Public Hospital has been forced to shut its doors until at least early July to the growing number of Canberrans seeking a vaccination against COVID-19.

About 4000 appointments have been booked at Bruce hospital for doses of the AstraZeneca in spite of earlier concerns from multiple nations in Europe over blood clotting.

“So I think what we are seeing in terms of people actually making appointments to get the AstraZeneca vaccine in the ACT is that we have strong demand since we have opened our site at Cavalry,” ACT Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said.

The renewed public confidence has left some appointments open at respiratory clinics in both Tuggeranong and Crace, just as GPs are already reporting a “strong demand” while asking for a greater supply of AstraZeneca.

The boost of pandemic jabs in line with a Commonwealth public awareness campaign has lifted the total number of vaccines delivered in the ACT, to 41,913, as of Friday (May 21).

It was only a week ago that 30,962 Canberrans had preferred Pfizer over AstraZeneca since the first vaccines in the ACT were unveiled in front of health ministers and media inside the Garran COVID-19 Surge Centre on February 22.

It also comes after Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier announced a government plan to develop onshore manufacturing of similar mRNA vaccines to Pfizer along with Moderna.

But the turnaround of first-round doses of AstraZeneca is welcomed after eligible patients aged over 50 staunchly held off for weeks until receiving reassurances about their health.

“I think it’s really important to recognise that we have actually seen quite strong uptake of the AstraZeneca vaccine certainly in our own hub at Calvary, so we are actually seeing our doses being used at the moment,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

Bookings for Pfizer are available at an ACT government clinic or a registered Canberra GP.

Chemists had also been flagged, but only by the Commonwealth as an alternative provider.

But after an expression of interest process that had indicated chemists would be handed approval to deliver vaccines from May, no further date has been set.

The ACT government had to first introduce legislation to allow its community pharmacies to administer the COVID-19 vaccine like they do with common flu shots.

But an ACT spokesperson for Ms Stephen-Smith said the future of the program remains in the hands of the federal government.

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Andrew Mathieson

Andrew Mathieson

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