Rural SA ready for vaccine rollout

Rural SA ready for vaccine rollout

Coronavirus
READY TO JAB: Rural South Australians under 50 are now eligible for hte Pfizer vaccine, while those 50 and above are eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine. PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK.

READY TO JAB: Rural South Australians under 50 are now eligible for hte Pfizer vaccine, while those 50 and above are eligible for the AstraZeneca vaccine. PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK.

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All regional South Australian residents aged 16 years and above are now eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.

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All regional South Australian residents aged 16 years and above are now eligible to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.

A total of 33 regional clinics across the state - some of which are "pop up" clinics in community buildings such as town halls or bowling clubs - will be offering the jab. The Pfizer vaccine will be available for people aged 49 and under, while the AstraZeneca vaccine will be given to those 50 years and above with vaccinations by appointment.

Of the 33 clinics, nine will offer the AstraZeneca jab, 13 will offer the Pfizer jab, while the remaining 11 will offer both.

Premier Steven Marshall said clinical capacity in regions had been established, with the state government "seizing the opportunity" to maximise that impact.

"We want to maintain the momentum of the vaccination program where access is the biggest challenge - in rural and remote SA," he said.

"SA continues to vaccinate its population at the highest per capita rate of any mainland state, so it is fantastic to see the rollout is being extended to regional South Australians."

Rural Doctors Association of SA president Peter Rischbieth said the regional vaccination announcement was a "great decision" by the state government, but said good communication within and between involved parties would be vital to ensure a smooth rollout.

I am aware of some people who decided not to be vaccinators because they didn't have the space, staff or facilities. - PETER RISCHBIETH

"Towns need to have some communication with those running the Local Health Networks, to work out what the roles are of private GPs, commonwealth respiratory clinics, and LHN providers, so everyone is trying to achieve the best vaccination rate, and not confusing the public with what is or isn't available," he said.

Dr Rischbieth said supply chains and the ordering process for doses had been "relatively smooth", but logistical issues still remained.

"I am aware of some people who decided not to be vaccinators because they didn't have the space, staff or facilities," he said.

"You have to have a doctor on site (for vaccinations), that's my understanding. Some GPs could potentially have to leave their private practice and go to the LHN hospital if needed - that's tricky considering most GPs are already snowed under with work."

Dr Rischbieth urged regionals South Australians to roll up their sleeves.

"If we were to have another wave, all the restrictions that came in last year, they'll all return in a big hurry, and that's been terrible for many families where the health system rules have restricted visitors in hospitals," he said.

"Until we get CIVD-19 under control, there is potential for that to be the world we'll be in. Complacency with vaccinations is not an option."

Health minister Stephen Wade said said more clinics would be opened in regional areas as more vaccines become available.

"We expect there to be very high levels of interest. We ask people to be patient. Should they not be able to secure their appointment at the time they are hoping for at their first attempt, please keep trying," Mr Wade said.

"The expansion of our regional vaccine clinics is exciting and it affirms the SA response to the pandemic - that we are all in this together.

As of last Sunday, statewide there were 43,800 Pfizer doses in stock, and 23,000 AstraZeneca doses.

Kangaroo Island is also set to receive 3500 doses, through an arrangement between the Royal Flying Doctor Service, Barossa Hills Fleurieu LHN and the KI Council. Vaccinations will be available at the Kingscote Town Hall from June 8.

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