Federal Health ‘sort of’ answers COVID questions

Photo by Lisa Ferdinando - CC licence

Confusion about the vaccine rollout prompted PP to send a list of questions to the top – the Commonwealth Department of Health – the body ultimately responsible for the vaccine rollout across the nation.

The questions were sent to Health on Friday, July 2 and they answered, apologising for the delay, on July 16.

Here’s how they answered our questions.

Q: How many doses (first and second) of AZ and Pfizer COVID vaccine have been administered to residents of the NSW Central Coast up to Friday, 2 July 2021?

A: For all available vaccination data, please view the weekly COVID-19 vaccine rollout report on the Department of Health website: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/australias-covid-19-vaccine-rollout.

The website reports over 11 million vaccine doses have been administered nationally at 6.30am on Wednesday, July 28 but does not give local data.

Q: Can the department confirm that all Central Coast aged care residents who wish to have received a COVID vaccine have been vaccinated? What percentage of aged care staff on the Central Coast have been partially or fully vaccinated to date? When will 100% vaccination be achieved if not already?

A: All 171 residential aged care facilities in the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network region under the Commonwealth’s in-reach program have received first and second dose COVID-19 vaccination clinics. 

Q: What percentage of health workers on the Central Coast have been partially or fully vaccinated to date? When will 100% vaccination be achieved if not already?

A: In NSW as of 9 July 2021, 881 of 937 residential aged care facilities (88 per cent) have reported on the COVID-19 vaccination status of their workforce. Of 79,833 staff reported by providers to date, 36 percent (28,475) have received a first dose and 20 per cent (16,107) have received all required doses.

Information on the number of healthcare workers that have been vaccinated are a matter for the NSW Government.

Q: Can Health confirm that the Eligibility Checker is not the only entry point for people wishing to be vaccinated? For instance, there appear to be state hospitals with their own systems for registering for Pfizer vaccine. What are the most efficient pathways for people seeking AZ? Pfizer? How does Health intend to better inform the public of pathways to vaccination in the weeks ahead?

A: The Australian Government’s COVID-19 Vaccination Information and Location Service (including the Eligibility Checker and Vaccine Clinic Finder) can be used by everyone to check if they can get a COVID-19 vaccination and, if so, find the right clinic to make a booking. If people need help to find a clinic, they can call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080.

There are currently over 6,000 vaccination providers featured on the Vaccine Clinic Finder, including Commonwealth and State and Territory vaccination clinics, participating general practices, pharmacies, Sonic hubs and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.  

This includes clinics that are administering AstraZeneca, Pfizer or both types of vaccines and continues to be updated as more vaccination providers start delivering the Pfizer vaccine across Australia.

As more vaccine providers come on board, they are added to the Vaccine Clinic Finder.

All approved COVID-19 vaccination clinics must be listed on the Vaccine Clinic Finder to ensure a pathway by which everyone can check if they are eligible and find a clinic right for them.

The Vaccination Information and Location Service allows each clinic to manage their own appointments and booking arrangements to suit their operations and local community needs, which may include through an online booking platform, taking bookings over the phone, inviting people to walk-in, or multiple ways to access vaccination. In addition, vaccine providers are able to provide additional digital and non-digital entry points for people to book a vaccination, such as through community in-reach and email notifications to existing patients.  

Q: Can Health confirm how many GPs on the NSW Central Coast currently have available supplies of AZ? Pfizer? It is our understanding that expressions of interest were called for Central Coast GPs to administer Pfizer. Can Health please confirm how many GPs will be coming online to deliver Pfizer, confirm their suburb locations and approximate timeline?

A: In the Central Coast region there is a total of 77 participating primary care sites, of which there are 74 general practices, two Commonwealth Vaccination Clinic and one Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services clinic.

There are currently five general practices will commence vaccinating with Pfizer in July, along with and one Commonwealth Vaccination Clinic, Erina Respiratory Clinic, on the Central Coast. 

The number of practices administering the Pfizer vaccine will progressively increase in coming months as more practices transition and more vaccines become available

All participating vaccination sites are listed on the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder, which enables people to find vaccination clinics near them and will have rolling updates to show Pfizer points of presence over coming weeks as sites transition.

The Vaccine Clinic Finder can be accessed through the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker. 

Q: Can Health please provide an estimate of when it believes all Central Coast residents who wish to be vaccinated will have access to their preferred/safest vaccine?

A: Making safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available to all Australians is a key priority of the Australian, and State and Territory governments. 

Operation COVID Shield has been set-up to oversee Australia’s vaccine rollout. LTGEN Frewen has said publicly that he wants to see anyone who wants a vaccine be offered one by the end of this year.

Media statement, July 16
Commonwealth Department of Health