Thousands of Pfizer coronavirus vaccines redirected from regional New South Wales to Greater Sydney will be returned from next week.
- New South Wales government last week redirected around 40,000 Pfizer doses from regional areas to Sydney to vaccinate high school students
- After the federal government today committed an additional 180,000 doses to the state, those ‘borrowed’ vaccines will be returned to the regions
- The decision comes after fragments of the COVID-19 virus were found in wastewater at Dubbo and Mudgee
A week ago, the state government announced it would take up to 40,000 first dose vaccines from regional Local Health Districts to ramp up the vaccination numbers of year 12 students in western and south-west Sydney suburbs.
It was hoped moving the doses to the current epicentre of the Greater Sydney outbreak would allow the final-year high school students to return to face-to-face learning sooner.
However, the federal government today announced an additional 180,000 Pfizer vaccines would be provided to Sydney, allowing the borrowed regional doses to be returned.
Of those, 20,000 will be sent to rural areas to replenish stocks that were redirected.
For many residents in regional New South Wales, however, their first dose appointments had already been cancelled.
About 1,000 people each week in the Western NSW Local Health District who were booked in for their first dose received a text from NSW Health advising, instead, to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers’ Member for Orange, Phil Donato, welcomed the reversal, but criticised the initial decision.
“[The doses were] pilfered by the Premier and Deputy Premier without even asking. There was no consultation with this decision for rural communities,” he said.
“People who had been waiting … six, seven, eight weeks for their doses of Pfizer and at the eleventh hour had those [appointments] cancelled and redirected.
“I certainly welcome the decision the Commonwealth made today.”
Western NSW Local Health District’s CEO, Scott McLachlan said the initial reallocation saw the Pfizer rollout in the region halted.
“[The change in plans] will be incredibly helpful in enabling us to restart some of the vaccination services that had been paused momentarily with the issues of supply with the Pfizer vaccine,” Mr McLachlan said.
He said the additional doses would be sent out over the next week or so, which would see vaccination clinics restart around August 16.
Over the next few weeks, the region expects to double its capacity, to be administering 2,000 Pfizer vaccinations a week.
People who have been affected by the vaccine reallocation will be contacted, but some details around today’s announcement are not yet clear.
Those affected who made alternative vaccination plans were encouraged to stick to them.
Concern virus is circulating in region
People are being urged to book in for any vaccination appointment that is available regardless of the “brand”.
The appeal comes after virus fragments were detected in the Dubbo and Mudgee sewage treatment plants over recent days.
“It’s highly likely there has been people with COVID-19 in our region over the past week or 10 days,” Mr McLachlan said.
The move follows two positive tests at the Molong plant last week, but the latest test there was negative.
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