Concrete information about the proportion of Central Coast health workers and residents who have been vaccinated against COVID-19 is currently unavailable, according to the Hunter, New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (PHN).
The Central Coast Local Health District has directed CCN’s questions about the vaccination program to the PHN as vaccination is a Federal Government responsibility.
In turn the PHN has referred questions about the rollout at a local level to the Federal Health Department which, at the time of going to press, had not responded to our questions.
“From this week, selected general practices on the Coast and the GP Respiratory Clinic at Erina have started to offer the Pfizer vaccine to their eligible patients, including those aged from 40 to 59 years of age,” a PHN spokesperson said.
“As supply increases more GP practices on the Coast will be able to offer Pfizer vaccinations to their patients.
“People can use the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker on the Department of Health’s website to find out when and where they can receive a COVID-19 vaccine,” the spokesperson said.
The national vaccine eligibility checker (health.gov.au) listed eight vaccine clinics on the Coast (as at Wednesday, July 7) including the Erina Respiratory Clinic and Gosford Hospital.
The eligibility checker has been upgraded in the past week to give those aged 50 to 59 the option of seeking additional information about the risks of using AstraZeneca or giving preference for Pfizer which is currently recommended by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) for those aged 16 to 59 years.
The AstraZeneca vaccine can be provided to people aged 18 to 59 years of age but they will need to make an informed decision by speaking with your vaccine provider.
“Some conditions may mean it is not suitable for you and it is important that you discuss this with your healthcare provider,” the eligibility checker said.
Members of the public aged 40 to 59 can now make an appointment to receive the Pfizer vaccine at the COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic at Gosford Hospital but it appears there are currently no appointments available at the hospital.
A message on the Gosford Hospital vaccination clinic bookings web page said “We have had a significant demand to book COVID-19 vaccinations.
“If there are no bookings available, please visit in a week, as more vaccination appointments will soon become available.
“Please be aware that no additional appointments are available via the support hotline.”
Some local GPs who have not expressed interest in administering Pfizer continue to refer patients to the Gosford Hospital clinic even though no appointments are available.
Wyong Hospital is accepting appointments from those aged 60 and over for AstraZeneca.
Neither of the hospitals’ vaccination clinics is currently accepting walk up appointments.
According to the PHN spokesperson, all aged care facilities on the Coast have received their first and second dose COVID-19 vaccination through the national vaccine rollout program.
“Where residents were not available for various reasons to receive a vaccination through this first wave, arrangements are being made with Aged Care Facilities to vaccinate those residents,” the spokesperson said.
In terms of the proportion of local frontline health workers who are fully or partially vaccinated, the PHN said it did not have access to such granular data.
It also could not answer our questions about the supply of either AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccine on the Coast.
It was unable to comment on the percentage of Central Coast residents who are already partially or fully vaccinated or the timeframe for the rollout to be completed locally.