Doctors and nurses are having trouble securing an adequate number of patients keen to receive a Covid jab – after Australian authorities scrambled to get their hands on a sufficient supply of the vaccines.
Thousands of doses are still sitting in fridges across Sydney as Phase 1b candidates think twice about getting the jab.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, which Australia pinned its hopes on for the bulk of its rollout, has been linked to blood clots in rare cases across the world.
Daily Mail Australia on Thursday revealed Genene Norris, a 48-year-old from NSW, was put on dialysis shortly after getting the vaccine and died a few days later.
Earlier this month the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation announced that under 50s should not be given the AstraZeneca dose and are urged to wait for an alternative.
Medical clinics who put on extra staff for the rollout have been unable to fill patient bookings following concerns over the AstraZeneca jab – despite Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt urging Australians not to lose faith in the vaccination program.
Thousands of doses are still sitting in fridges across Sydney as Phase 1b candidates think twice about getting the jab. Pictured: A Townsville nurse in Queensland gets the Covid vaccine jab
The AstraZeneca vaccine, which Australia pinned its hopes on for the bulk of its rollout, has been linked to blood clots in rare cases across the world
In fact, some doctors have even asked the Department of Health to open up the vaccination program to ordinary people outside of the Phase 1b category because nobody is turning up.
Belmore Medical Respiratory Clinic principal Dr Jamal Rifi told the Daily Telegraph he had cut the number of staff on duty from a GP and five nurses to a GP and one nurse.
His practice had planned to vaccinate about 80 people a day, now only 20 are walking through the doors.
‘I spent three weeks preparing to be ready. We were busy in the first two weeks, slower in the third week, and fourth week hardly anyone is coming,’ Dr Rifi said.
He also pointed out that consultation times for prospective vaccine recipients has doubled from 12 minutes to almost half an hour with patients wanting to know more information about the potential risks.
Dr Rifi said the government’s messaging needs to be improved urgently or the rollout could fall into further chaos.
Health care workers leave the vaccination hub at Westmead Hospital on March 1, 2021
The risk of dying from Covid-19 is significantly higher than the rate of blood clots, which have not been definitively linked to the vaccines (based on fatality estimates from Cambridge University and CSVT occurrences in Germany)
At the Northshore Roseville Covid-19 Vaccine Centre it’s a similar story.
They prepared for about 1000 vaccinations a day but are currently only administering about ’50 to 60′.
‘We contacted the department a few days ago, but they said we could instead reduce our hours. We have so many vaccines we don’t know what to do with them,’ a staffer said.
Ms Norris the third person in Australia to develop blood clots after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Mr Hunt said the risk remained low with only three cases from 885,000 AstraZeneca shots. The other two cases are recovering.
Ms Norris had her shot just hours before authorities announced they were no longer recommending AstraZeneca for Australians under 50.
Medical clinics who put on extra staff have been unable to fill patient bookings (stock image)
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has said that while a ‘causative link’ between Ms Norris’s death and her vaccination on April 8 ‘should be assumed’, questions remain.
It noted the complication of her underlying health conditions and said an antibody common in other AstraZeneca clotting cases wasn’t present.
Some test results are still pending. An autopsy is planned on Monday and a coronial inquest is likely.
So far about 1.5 million Australians have been vaccinated against Covid-19, well short of Scott Morrison’s target of four million by March.
The prime minister now says he ‘would like’ all Australians to get at least their first dose by the end of the year, but made no guarantees.
To make up for the shortfall of the AstraZeneca vaccine, the government has ordered Twenty million doses of the Pfizer dose but it’s not expected to arrive until the final quarter of this year.
Health care workers wait in observation after receiving their COVID-19 vaccinations at the Westmead Hospital Vaccination Hub in Sydney, Monday, March 1, 2021