3 August 2021

Booking system overwhelmed by young people wanting the Pfizer jab

| Dominic Giannini
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Felicity Manson, Clinical Nurse Manager and Chief Minister Andrew Barr MLA at Canberra Airport precinct COVID-19 mass vaccination clinic.

ACT mass vaccination clinics have received a record number of bookings following opening up appointments to people between the age of 30 to 39. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

More than 11,500 Canberrans between the ages of 30 and 39 booked in for their Pfizer shot on the first day the ACT Government opened appointments, more than doubling the previous daily record before lunch.

Canberrans in the age group were able to register their interest in getting the Pfizer jab at a government-run mass vaccination clinic from 21 July, but bookings for appointments – scheduled for as early as this Saturday (7 August) – only opened today.

By midday, bookings for the two Pfizer hubs at Garran and the Airport were booked out until mid-September.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr reiterated that the vaccine rollout was a race and one that Canberrans could win.

“The best protection ACT residents can have is to be vaccinated … and as soon as we get those supplies from the Commonwealth, we are making them available as soon as we can,” he said.

“This is a mass vaccination program, and we are delivering it faster than almost every other state and territory, and with a more efficient system than almost every other state and territory. That has been the consistent feedback from users.

“Nothing is absolutely perfect. No system can achieve that. But I will point to the statistics and the results on the ground and the really positive feedback we have received in terms of the ACT mass vaccination clinics.”

Mr Barr defended reports that the system has crashed this morning, saying that it was impossible that everyone in the cohort would be able to make a booking simultaneously.

ACT Health also has 35 staff members taking bookings and conducting callbacks to schedule appointments.

It remains unclear when the vaccine rollout will expand to lower age groups, with the Chief Minister saying it would be dependant on supply and ACT Health’s capacity to get through the current cohort.

The current number of bookings indicates that this would be unlikely before October when the ACT is due to receive thousands more Pfizer doses each week under current estimates.

The number of doses made available to the Territory is expected to increase to between 17,700 and 19,700, up from the current 14,000 doses currently being administered across both Pfizer hubs each week.

Each week, 2000 of these bookings are put aside for residential aged care and disability care workers to get vaccinated as the mid-September vaccination mandate for workers in these settings draws closer.

Mr Barr said that while he did not have exact numbers, there has been a significant increase in this group.

“There has been a very strong take-up … so that has been encouraging,” he said.

“We will need to continue to work on that, partnering with the Commonwealth Government and with those employers over the coming weeks.”

The ACT has just eclipsed 50 per cent of its population having the first dose and is expected to have 25 per cent of eligible people fully vaccinated by the end of the week.

Mr Barr said if the current supply projections and vaccine enthusiasm continue, the ACT would reach the target of 70 to 80 per cent vaccination coverage outlined by National Cabinet to open up and reduce the need for restrictions by early summer.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he would like to see these targets achieved by the end of the year.

Original Article published by Dominic Giannini on The RiotACT.

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