Gippsland vaccination program ramping up

Gippslanders are rolling up their sleeves to get the jab, with COVID vaccination rates tracking well when compared with other regions.

GIPPSLAND general practices and GP-led respiratory clinics have administered more than 100,000 COVID-19 vaccination doses in four months.
The milestone was reached on Friday, when vaccination doses given since March 22 totalled 103,282.
As of August 2, Gippsland GP clinics had administered 72,952 doses since March 22, including 20,382 second doses with Gippsland Respiratory Clinics giving 24,538 vaccination doses, including 7512 doses during the same period.
Since then, an additional 5792 doses were given in four days, with Gippsland tracking well above the national average in doses per 100 people.
Federal government data, sourced from the Australian Immunisation Register, reveals as of August 1, 48.8 per cent of eligible Gippslanders aged over 15 had received at least one COVID vaccination, while 20.8 per cent had received both.
Statewide, more than 1.6 million doses have been delivered through Victoria’s 52 state-run high-volume, hospital, community, and pop-up vaccination centres – more than any other state or territory.
General practitioners, pharmacists and Aboriginal controlled community health organisations are also administering the vaccine across Victoria.
Gippsland Primary Health Network chief executive Amanda Proposch congratulated clinics taking part in the vaccination rollout, with many now giving both AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines.
“Gippsland health professionals are doing an incredible job in vaccinating our community and are an essential part of the national vaccination rollout,” Ms Proposch said.
“Our figures show that our regional vaccination ratios are exceeding the national equivalent, which is an incredible effort.”
Ms Proposch encouraged those eligible to have a COVID-19 vaccination to do so as soon as possible.
“We understand that some people might be anxious,” she said.
“If you are, please talk to your local doctor or health service, and importantly, listen to the expert health advice.
“It is the best way to keep our community safe.”
Gippsland’s heartening vaccination figures come as the state government announces thousands of appointments for the COVID-19 Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are open for eligible Victorians during the coming month, with more appointments set aside for priority health care workers and aged care and disability workers yet to be vaccinated.
Gippsland will have more GP clinics administering Pfizer from next Monday.
Almost 60,000 Pfizer appointments are now open for eligible Victorians during the next month, and more than 15,000 extra open appointments have also been are set aside for prioritised workers.
Thousands of AstraZeneca appointments are also open, with walk-up appointments also available, for people aged 60 and over.
The new Pfizer appointments have been added to the system following Victoria’s decision to revise the recommended Pfizer second dose interval to six weeks.
This has freed up supply available for first dose appointments now, because the demand for subsequent second dose appointments can be met with September’s projected increase in supply.
Second Pfizer doses at the community vaccination hubs will now be administered at least six weeks after the first jab in a bid to get more people protected.
Giving the second jab after six weeks will help give more Gippslanders some level of protection against the virus, allowing more people to receive their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks as more first dose bookings will become available in the system as a result of this change.
The change is consistent with Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation guidelines that advises dosing intervals can be adjusted according to epidemiological conditions and other factors, ensuring efficacy of the vaccine remains.
There is no change for people who already had their second Pfizer dose booked, and they should attend their appointment as planned.
There is no change to the interval for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Commonwealth vaccination providers, such as GPs and Aboriginal community controlled health organisations, will continue to provide second doses at an interval of three weeks.
Victorians currently eligible for the vaccine under the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 vaccination program include everyone aged 40 and over, and large numbers of people under 40 such as health care workers and people with specified underlying medical conditions.
The state Department of Health will also begin publishing graphs and tables every week online showing age and gender of vaccine recipients at Victoria’s vaccination centres, as well as the type of vaccine administered.
State Health Minister Martin Foley said the new appointments represented an the opportunity for people who hadn’t been able to secure an appointment so far to “get vaccinated, get protected, and help us all get back to normal”.
“We can look at the evidence from overseas to see the power of this vaccine in action – but we can also look close to home,” he said.
Recent analysis shows none of the locally-acquired COVID-19 cases hospitalised during the July outbreak were fully vaccinated.
People can go online to check their eligibility and find their closest vaccinating clinic at www.gphn.org.au/covid-19-vaccine-resources/.

Vaccines available for eligible teens

APPOINTMENTS are now available in Gippsland for young people aged 12 to 15 in priority cohorts for the Pfizer vaccine, and the general public aged 18 to 39 for the AstraZeneca vaccine.
While the Gippsland Region Public Health Unit’s Community Vaccination Hubs are not officially part of the Department of Health’s initial trial for these extended age groups, its clinics have capacity to support interest from these new cohorts for each vaccine.
Appointments must be made.
Young people aged 12 to 15 who are at higher risk of severe illness if they contract COVID-19 are eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine with parental consent.
Specified medical conditions that increase their risk of severe COVID-19 include, but are not limited to asthma, diabetes, obesity, cardiac and circulatory congenital anomalies, neuro developmental disorders, epilepsy, immuno-compromised and trisomy 21. The cohort also includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, and young people in remote communities.
These young people will be given a two-dose schedule, with the normal minimum interval of six weeks between doses.
Young people will be encouraged to speak with their GP about any questions they (or their parents/guardians) may have.
Vaccination bookings for this cohort should be made through the normal booking process at www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/bookyour-vaccine-appointment or by phoning 1800
675 398).
They must attend a vaccination centre with a parent or guardian or other person with parental responsibility for the child who will give consent and accompany them.
Proof of age must also be provided, for example, a school ID card, birth certificate, passport, doctor’s letter with date of birth  of other proof of age.
Appointments are required for people aged 18 to 39 years for the AstraZeneca vaccine, and should be made through the normal booking process, under a new category.