2nd April 2021, Dr Chee L Khoo
I know some of you have already pop down to the nearby medical centre and receive your first jab of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine. That’s great. Really doesn’t matter where you get yours from. As long as you get vaccinated according to your eligibility. We are only vaccinating patients in Phase 1B which includes patients over 70 years old (over 55 years for ATSIC people), the other non-frontline health workers and people with severe medical conditions. Unfortunately, the delivery of the vaccines are very hit and miss. Whoever is coordinating the roll out of the vaccines nationally clearly is confused about their alphabets ( see here). I am not sure that there is even a strategy in place on how to roll out the vaccines.
5 weeks ago, we were informed that we will receive our first shipment of 50 doses after 12th April (what does that even mean?). We have taken the risk of giving out 50 appointments starting April 19th. The appointments, as you can imagine, are all taken up by patients with significant medical illness and patients closed to 90 years old.
Then, last Friday, I received an email asking me to complete the registration for the roll out. Strange. I thought I already did. After redoing the whole lot of tick boxes and entering the practice details again, I was told to beginning the ordering process. I thought 50 was already slotted to come after April 12th. No matter. I proceeded to order and voila, we will now receive 100 doses on the 9th April. Alas, since we were informed that the first shipment won’t come till after April 12th, we have decided to take the week after Easter off in preparation for the roll out mayhem to come.
If the vaccines were to arrive on the 9th, we would be closed. So, we thought we better call “dispatch central”. The nice lady of the other end was surprised that we bother calling. “The vaccines won’t come on the 9th anyway!”. They will email the couriers and they will probably come on the 12th. Maybe 13th. We think.
Geez, you wouldn’t want to fly to the moon with these guys in charge would you? It might not even lift off. I am not sure that you will even use them to organise a chook raffle.
You can see how frustrated we are. For those of you that have been to see us over the last 3-4 months, we would remember me discussing how and why we need not panic over the whole roll out. Don’t get me wrong. We need to get the jabs in the arm as soon as we can but the limitation is going to be supplies or the lack of. We already know that the government will be blazing the media for political reasons hailing the launch of Phase 1A and now Phase 1B and panicking the masses in the process but unable to deliver.
With no further vaccines coming from Europe and our CSL plant in Victoria struggling to produce 1 million doses per week, there is no way we are going to achieve the silly target of 4 million jabs in arms by end of March or even end of April. To satisfy the goal of vaccinating every Australian who wants to be vaccinated, we need to produce at least 40 million doses of AZ vaccines. It will take at least the end of December or more likely, January 2022 to fulfill those orders. Who promised October?
Of course, we could Europe, the rain, the floods or the state governments. GPs will get blamed next. If you over promise and under deliver, you will get egg on your face.
Apart from the first 50 appointments already made, we will only give out vaccine appointments when we have the vaccines in our fridge. Unfortunately, it is going to be a week to week proposition. Give us a call after April the 13th and we might be able to give out more appointments.
For those in Phase 1B, it is recommended that you have your Covid-19 jab first then wait for 2-4 weeks before having the flu vaccines. For those of you in the Phase 2 roll out and you normally have the annual flu vaccine, you should ring us after we re-open on April 12th to organise your flu vaccine before the first Covid-19 jab.