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Vaccine availability divides city and country

Rural people want the Pfizer vaccine, and its in short supply

by Susanna Freymark, 07/08/2021, 4 min read

MICHAEL Rowe from Casino wants to get vaccinated but when he rang Lismore Base Hospital, he was told there was a seven-week wait for the Pfizer injection.

He booked in as soon as Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that people aged 40–49 years could be vaccinated.

“I’m currently in the situation where no information is available regarding whether my appointment will be honoured or not with the changes that have been made and the state government uncertainty regarding supply,” Michael said.

“If my appointment is honoured, I'm better off waiting for the Pfizer, if it is not, I am better off getting the AstraZeneca straight away as the times to fully vaccinate are the same at this point.”

Michael is making his decision on which vaccine to have based on the number of covid cases.

“If the cases in NSW hadn’t levelled off, I would have got AstraZeneca,” he said.

He is prepared to wait seven weeks until his Pfizer jab is available.

Kyogle’s Fiona Kerwin had both Pfizer jabs but was able to be in Sydney to get them.

“I was in a position where I had to go to Sydney and two weeks ago, I had my second jab,” she said.

Her first was in May and when she went to Olympic Park vaccination centre, there were long queues for the vaccine.

She had no side effects apart from a sore arm.

“Like a tetanus shot,” Fiona said.

If she hadn’t been able to get Pfizer, she would have considered AstraZeneca.

The Maria Clinic in Casino is expecting delivery of the Pfizer vaccine mid-July.

The federal government changed the age group suitable for AstraZeneca which conflicted with earlier advice on it being only for those over 60 years.

The public is confused about the change and the advice on the risk of blood clotting from AstraZeneca.

At the Bonalbo campdraft, riders wore masks. Photo: Susanna Freymark

The Therapeutic Goods Administration reported that the total number of cases linked to thrombocytopenia syndrome (blood clotting) was 69. There have been two confirmed deaths and 41 confirmed cases from 4.6 million doses given.

With 30% of Australians having had their first dose of vaccine and less than 8% fully vaccinated, the nation is way behind other countries.

Kyogle and Richmond Valley along with Tweed and Bellingen shires have been more vaccine hesitant than other LGAs in the state. More than 30% of people surveyed in those shires said they wouldn’t get vaccinated.

This may be because the region has been fortunate with almost no covid cases.

Farmers mask up. Photo: Susanna Freymark

Vaccine uptake was higher in Byron, Lismore and Clarence LGAs.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommended Pfizer as the preferred vaccine for those aged 16–59 years, but the AstraZeneca vaccine can be provided to people aged 18–59 years after consultation with their doctor.

People under 16 years of age are not able to get vaccinated yet.

This week, the state government launched a pharmacy program in the vaccine rollout.

Coraki Pharmacy is one of the first chemists in the state to be able to administer the vaccine, but only AstraZeneca at this stage.

As part of the pilot program, the vaccines will be available at the pharmacy within two weeks.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard said everyone in NSW who wants to be vaccinated will be vaccinated as soon as possible – when it’s their turn.

The problem appears to be that those in the country who want the vaccine have to wait significantly longer than their city counterparts. And their choice of vaccine is limited by supply, with cities getting priority.

Healthy North Coast said all 80 residential aged care facilities on the North Coast have completed their vaccine rollout.

For information on the vaccine, call 1800 020 080.

WHERE TO GET VACCINATED

Casino

Maria Clinic, Canterbury St,  6662 1811

Casino Medical Centre, 144 Canterbury St, 6662 1555

Casino Respiratory Clinic, 107 Barker St,  1800 856 325

Kyogle

McKid Medical Centre, 199 Summerland Way,  6632 1253

Evans Head

Evans Head Medical Centre, 2 School Lane,  6682 4500

Coraki – soon

Coraki Pharmacy, Queen Elizabeth Drive,  6683 2037

Urbenville

High Country Medical Practices, Urbenville Health Services, 45 Beaury St,  6663 1275

Tenterfield

Tenterfield Health Services, 123 Rouse St,  6736 3350

Rouse St Medical Centre, 357 Rouse St,  6736 1522

Dr Brian Pilgrim, 196 Rouse St,  6736 2155

Lismore

Lismore Base Hospital, Level 8, Uralba St,  1800 438 829 Open on weekends 7.30am–4pm

Keen St Clinic, 22 Keen St,  66212371

Lismore Clinic, 181-213 Molesworth St,  6621 2502

Lismore GP Super Clinic, Suite 4, 33-35 Rous Rd,  6624 1411

Goonellabah Medical Centre, 616 Ballina Rd,  6625 0000

Sourced from covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au