Moderna and Pfizer supplies are ramping up

By Gabriel Fowler

PHARMACIES and doctors have advised their COVID-19 vaccine supplies are ramping up and more appointments and options are becoming available.

On Monday, 25,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine were made available to GPs across the Central Coast Hunter New England Primary Health network footprint, according to the executive manager for primary care improvement, John Baillie, who is leading the organisation's COVID response.

Which GPs would make them available to which patients varied from one general practise to another, he said, depending on the number of patients in priority categories are waiting on vaccines and their total patient load.

"There's a variety of approaches being taken by general practise," he said. "Some GPs have been providing the vaccine to patients of their practise and they're gradually working through those patients based on priority, and there are other practises who have vaccinated most of their priority group and are accepting patients outside of their usual patient cohort."

For those people who are reporting that they can't get a vaccination until November or later, it was expected those dates could now be moved forward, he said.

"From today, we had 65 practises across our foot print commence with their Pfizer supply and then there will be another 97 come on board next Monday (September 20) and progressively increasing after that."

GPs are also helping partnering with other organisations to conduct outreach vaccination clinics to aimed at disadvantaged groups such as people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, he said.

Chelsea Felkai, Pharmacist and NSW Branch president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia.

At the same time, pharmacies are stepping up their capacity to deliver Moderna, which is an mRNA vaccine similar to Pfizer. Chelsea Felkai, Pharmacist and NSW Branch president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, said there are one million doses of Moderna arriving in Australia to be delivered by pharmacies across the country.

"You will be able to get Moderna through your pharmacy," she said. "Pharmacies are prioritised with the Moderna vaccine. To reduce confusion, GPs are maintaining the Pfizer stock and we are retaining the Moderna stock."

Mrs Felklai said 1800 pharmacies would begin vaccinating on September 20, with another 1800 to join soon after, including 22 pharmacies in the Newcastle, Maitland and Cessnock areas.

"This could grow to more as they have increased tranche one from 1200 pharmacies to 1800," she said.

Pharmacies will also be conducting outreach programs targeting vulnerable people, as well as in schools and other work places, she said.

The best way to find a pharmacy near you is via the website where you can search by vaccines and find out which pharmacy you can book in with, she said.

A spokesman for Hunter New England Health said those aged 12 years and older are now eligible for vaccinations.

" At the Belmont Hub, while we have a good supply of AstraZeneca. Pfizer supplies are still limited so appointments are less available," a statement issued on Monday said.

"As more Pfizer is made available, we will be in a position to provide more appointments to the community. We urge members of the community who are yet to receive a vaccine do so as soon as possible. Vaccination appointments at Belmont can be made via the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder (previously eligibility checker) and third party sites like Hot Doc and COVID queue may also be useful for people trying to locate appointments sooner."

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