• Tony Bosworth

Hawkesbury reaches milestone first dose jab level despite Pfizer shortages and no local vaccine hub

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

This week the Hawkesbury reached a single dose vaccination milestone, while still being well short of the level needed to unlock the lockdown for residents, or at least minimise the current restrictions.

We have reached 74.7% of residents having had their first dose vaccination - despite a well publicised shortage of Pzifer vaccine - while people fully vaccinated in the Hawkesbury now sits at around 43%, with some suburbs reaching a double dose rate of 39% and Kurmond touching a lofty 69%.

As we reported earlier this week, Kurmond – with a vaccine-eligible population of just over 700 – has reached 90% first vaccine doses, the highest in the Nepean Blue Mountains local health district.

But we need to get to at least 70% double-dose state-wide for the current lockdown restrictions to be eased, which on current vaccination rates is estimated to be by mid-October.

Supplies of Pzifer vaccine – the other is Astra Zeneca, we don’t yet have the Moderna vaccine which has been broadly used across Europe, but it’s coming – are now becoming more readily available.

A shortage of Pfizer – the federal government simply did not order enough soon enough – has been a frustration to both the states and to many Hawkesbury residents, some of whom have had to make the long trek to Qudos Stadium to get vaccinated, due to patchy availability in the Hawkesbury.

Just to give an indication of how short we were of Pfizer, Australia’s supply of that vaccine for this month, following major deliveries from Europe, is just over 9 million doses, more than the months of June, July and August combined.

Vaccine rates state-wide have dipped slightly this week, but overall the vaccine rates are high and that’s led to Premier Gladys Berejiklian pointing to mid-October as the likely lockdown easing date.

Liberal Senator for Western Sydney, Marise Payne, said yesterday – Thursday - “the best thing we can all do is make sure we keep positive, encourage one another to get vaccinated, and stick to the National Plan.”

“While the vaccination rate is very promising, I urge our community to keep going because every vaccine administered gets us closer to unlocking Australia.”

Hawkesbury MP, Robyn Preston, is also thanking the Hawkesbury community for rolling up their sleeves and getting vaccinated.

“Hawkesbury is one of the leading areas in NSW when it comes to getting vaccinated and I am very proud of how we have responded to the call,” Ms Preston said Thursday. “We want to get back to sharing a meal with relatives and mates, supporting small businesses at cafés, gyms, hotels or clubs, enjoying live bands, getting back to sporting venues and being able to attend church.

“We are on the home stretch now and the sweet rewards are within our reach. Let’s do this Hawkesbury!”

But Macquarie MP Susan Templeman says it’s not all been plain sailing, given the shortage of Pfizer.

“For some people, vaccination’s been a smooth process but too many Hawkesbury people have gone to extraordinary lengths to find a vaccine, and they should be congratulated for this,” said Ms Templeman

“They’ve done it without a local hub, by spending a lot of time on the phone or online trying to book.

“And they’ve done it thanks to local GPs and their teams working tirelessly, without a break now for months, with dreadful supply constraints because there simply hasn’t been enough vaccine to go around. It’s no secret that the receptionists at GP practices have copped relentless pleas and even abuse from frightened and frustrated people.

“The community can also celebrate this milestone towards getting out of ‘Delta prison’ thanks to the people who were willing and able to travel into areas of concern just to have their jab.

“While there’s a significant way still to reach the necessary vaccination levels, made harder without a dedicated local hub, GPs and now pharmacies will carry a heavy load. To them, I say thank you.”

Wentworth Healthcare, the provider of the Nepean Blue Mountains Primary Health Network, has been working closely with the Department of Health to support the local vaccination roll-out into general practices.

Lizz Reay, CEO of Wentworth Healthcare, said general practices had been working hard to vaccinate the community against COVID on top of their normal everyday patient care.

“We estimate that over 173,000 vaccine doses in our region have been administered through primary care which includes general practices, Aboriginal Medical Services and GP-led Respiratory Clinics. Nationally, we know that over half of all vaccinations have been administered through primary care, which is a huge effort,” Ms Reay said.

“We have seen the community demand for COVID-19 vaccination increase since the June outbreak and it is fantastic to see that so many people in the Hawkesbury have rolled up their sleeve to receive their jab.

“Across our region we now have 92 general practices delivering COVID-19 vaccinations, with 21 of these located in the Hawkesbury. In addition, we have three GP-led Respiratory Clinics delivering vaccinations, one of which is located in the Hawkesbury.

“As more Pfizer vaccine starts to come on board from next week, we will see capacity and access to Pfizer appointments increase across our region, so I encourage those who have not yet booked an appointment to get onto the Eligibility Checker and to book their vaccination as soon as possible,” she said.

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