Pfizer vaccine ready to be rolled out in ACT on Monday

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Garran COVID-19 Surge Centre

ACT residents will be able to seek a vaccine jab for the prevention of coronavirus from their local practitioners in due course.

The Garran COVID-19 Surge Centre is set to be the initial Pfizer vaccine hub from Monday for the priority one group of patients.

Only formal approval from the Commonwealth Government is standing in the way of ACT Health delivering on its commitment.

Our intention is to deliver the first vaccination on Monday (February 22),” ACT chief health officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said on Tuesday.

But outside the clinic at Garran, medical professionals will soon be informed on delivering vaccines at Calvary Hospital, a number of GP surgeries and some community pharmacies “bit further down the track”.

ACT Health has been in “constant communication” with the Capital Health Network about spreading the load of vaccinations after Ms Coleman added that conversations have been progressing well before moving the discussion next out to GPs.

“One of the important things to remember that sometimes people do like to go to their regular healthcare provider for their vaccines,” Dr Coleman said.

“People who have underlying medical conditions may really feel that reassurance of talking to their own provider.”

Doctors and nurses should be able to draw the vials into the arms of patients confidently that will essentially will be no different to administering any other form of vaccine.

The introduction of phase 1A will take priority that include quarantine and border workers, frontline health care workers, and aged care and disability care residents and staff.

The ACT government has called the rollout as “one of the most complex logistical exercises and key challenges” that will be run separately from the national immunisation program where there is clearer roles and responsibilities between the Commonwealth and other jurisdictions.

Dr Coleman said ACT Health has needed to “work through how we would deliver a large number of vaccines to multiple stakeholder groups” considering the detailed planning and unpredictability of organising vaccines for every adult in Canberra that could also extend to Queanbeyan and Yass.

“I can understand and hear some of the frustrations of (people) from the ACT when it is going start, when their turn will come and I think that’s also been one of our frustrations – uncertainty and planning, but we will get there,” she said.

Despite taking a conservative approach during the global pandemic, Ms Coleman said ACT Health will promise to “speed things up safely” but also be aware that issues can change in a matter of a couple of days.

While Pfizer will take priority next week, the AstraZeneca vaccine has provisional approval now to be carried out in Australia.

Dr Coleman said looking after Pfizer will be “a lot more complex” compared to AstraZeneca, whose storage requirements are simpler much like most other vaccines.

“It’s really exciting that we now have our second vaccine registered,” she said.

“I’m not exactly sure when it is going to arrive in Australia.

“We’re waiting for information from the Commonwealth like that.

“I understand Health Minister (Greg) Hunt was talking through by the end of March to have that available.”


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