Angus is among the NSW children not getting a jab today as delivery issues hit day one roll out


Suzannah Nicholson's seven-year-old son, Angus, was due to get his first COVID-19 jab today at their local GP clinic in Glebe in Sydney's inner-west.

Key points:

  • Dr Danielle McMullen says vaccinations for 5-11-year-olds will not be completed before school starts
  • Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says there are three million vaccines available for this age group
  • In the 12-15-year age group, 78.1 per cent are fully vaccinated

However, over the weekend, Ms Nicholson received a call from their doctor, saying the practice had not yet received its supply of child-strength Pfizer vaccines, so the booking would be postponed until further notice. 

Ms Nicholson is among many parents across NSW whose appointments, made weeks ago, have been either delayed or cancelled ahead of today's nationwide vaccine rollout for 5 to 11 year olds.

"I'm angry, because I was organised, I wasn't scrambling for an appointment," Ms Nicholson said.

"We've been lying low, given the explosion in case numbers, so we could get to Monday so he could get his vaccination and we could have a level of protection."

Australian Medical Association NSW president Danielle McMullen said many GPs have had to cancel appointments due to shipments not arriving.

"We are hearing more frustration from members that the rising COVID-19 cases has meant a whole lot of logistics and delivery delays," Dr McMullen said.

This, she said, meant that a number of clinics across the state did not get a delivery.

"It will leave clinics having to cancel their vaccine bookings," she said.

Dr McMullen says a lot of clinics have not received their suppy of vaccines.(ABC News)

Vaccine clinics, doctors and pharmacies have been taking bookings for weeks, since the Pfizer vaccine was approved by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) last month.

The dose is a third of the amount given to people aged 12 and over, with two doses given eight weeks apart.

While the Sydney mother organised the booking in December, her family was now, Ms Nicolson said, in a "holding pattern" until their clinic receives supply.

"It creates uncertainty … I haven't sent my son to vacation care so he's not exposed there and that means he can't get vaccinated so I've done everything I can and now it's all up in the air," Ms Nicholson said.

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The disruption comes amid pleas from both Premier Dominic Perrottet and NSW Health's Dr Jeremy McAnulty for parents to get their children vaccinated.

Yesterday, federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said there were three million COVID does available for children and that was "more than enough for every single child in Australia to be vaccinated".

"Obviously that occurs over a period of weeks. Not every child will be available or able to do it all in one particular day and practices have a certain volume," Mr Hunt said.

"That is to make sure that people in rural, regional, non-English-speaking areas, lower social economic areas have the same access and so there are multiple options."

'Gaps emerging again'

NSW Teachers Federation president Angelo Gavrielatos said that, with schools reopening at the end of the month, some parents still could not get a booking for their children.

"Quite frankly, that angers us. We have been banging on about this since October last year, to make sure that the rollout is effective and efficient, and yet here we are with gaps emerging again," Mr Gavrielatos said.

"This is another monumental failure of the federal government. This all should have been foreseen."

Mr Gavrielatos says it's another monumental failure of the federal government.(ABC News)

Dr McMullen said demand for bookings had been high for weeks.

"Parents and children are really keen to get vaccinated and, as GPs, we want to vaccinate them, for this really important part of pandemic management, she said.

"This is one more delay and one more thing our poor medical reception staff have to face — more than anyone — is having to let parents know their appointment is cancelled."

She also said it would be a major problem for some clinics, with re-bookings needed.

"All I can do is implore parents to be patient. Shifting patient [appointment times] depends on staff availability.

"It is a challenging time to find that spare space at the moment when we are also doing booster shots, caring for COVID patients and doing general practice care as well."

Read more about the spread of COVID-19:

Schools face an uncertain time

Mr Gavrielatos said the impact of delaying children's vaccinations would have a flow on effect for schools, with a COVID-19 peak hitting the state just when school resumes.

"We have serious concerns ahead of school resuming at the end of the month," he said.

"We are having a follow-up meeting with senior education officials this week to continue to discuss all options [we have] to mitigate risk and options for the event when schools are non-operational."

It's a concern shared by Ms Nicholson, who fears the return to school will be "problematic" after two years of already disrupted schooling. 

"It also pushes the second appointment back, which will be further into Term 1 and you can maintain the rhetoric about getting kids back day one, term 1 but for how long? "

Ms Nicholson says the delay in getting Angus vaccinated will push back even further his second jab.(Supplied)

Dr McMullen said it was known that vaccinations for children aged 5-11 years would not be completed before school starts.

"We already knew that children will not be fully vaccinated by the time school starts," she said.

"Obviously, the best thing we can do is be fully vaccinated and have booster shots as adults. And to get our kids vaccinated as soon as we can."

The Premier has reiterated that schools will be going back as planned, on "day one, term 1", and rapid antigen testing will be the key to making that happen.

"There will be challenges as we move through the return-to-school program but, ultimately, we can't let perfection be the enemy of good,' Mr Perrottet said. "We need kids back in class."

Currently, 93.7 per cent of eligible residents aged 16 years and over are fully vaccinated in NSW, with 95.1 per cent having had at least one dose.

In the 12-15-year group, 81.5 per cent have had a first jab and 78.1 per cent are fully vaccinated.

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Source: https://www.abc.net.au/news




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