The NSW and Commonwealth governments are advising parents to book their children aged 5 – 11 a Pfizer COVID19 appointment as soon as possible. Easier said than done.
Parents are struggling to make an appointment to ensure their children are vaccinated before the School Term 1 2022 starts. We have been tracking these issues, and set out below are some tips on how to grab an earlier appointment (but warning there is a time commitment involved).
Sunrise interviewed Commonwealth COVID-19 Task Force Commander Lieutenant General John Frewen on Monday, and he stated the following (full transcript here):
“…look, if you have got an appointment in place, that’s great, but there are new appointments coming online every day. There are going to be walk-in opportunities as well. So, again, I’d just keep trying. Try your local pharmacies, keep an eye on when the state and territory clinics are opening up, and just- things will be moving around the system and there will be people getting through more quickly in some places than others. We’ll be working with all of the providers to make sure that we get the supplies to those places where they’re needed most. But again, a little bit of patience. I know people are very keen to get their kids through before school. The vaccines are there, it’s just about us now marrying the vaccines up with where the people are.”
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has stated there are widespread reports of practices receiving insufficient stock or expired vaccine doses, having orders cancelled at the last minute or doses not arriving without any explanation.
The RACGP has urged the Federal Government to:
- work with state and territory governments to make additional state and territory-allocated paediatric vaccines available for use in general practices
- ensure general practices receive the vaccine doses they have requested when they need them
- make more doses available to general practices who have the capacity to deliver additional vaccines
- improve lines of communication with GPs and their teams and advise ahead of time if deliveries are going to be delayed
- provide a funding boost to practices so that they can accommodate more children’s vaccinations.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price said that there was no time to lose.
“GPs and their practice teams are trying to vaccinate the nation’s children with one arm tied behind their back,” she said.
“Omicron cases are escalating, and term one of school is fast approaching. Urgent improvements to the children’s vaccine rollout must happen now so that our kids can receive at least one vaccine dose before returning to the classroom.
“GPs are telling me that they can’t obtain enough stock, whilst others have had their orders cancelled at the last minute or received expired doses. Some practices are being given 50 or 100 doses a week when they have around 1,500 children on their books. It’s not hard to do the maths and realise that we simply cannot keep up with demand.
“I’m concerned that once again people will take out their frustrations on exhausted practice teams doing their best in a very challenging situation. I hope families don’t throw their hands up in the air and give up on getting their children vaccinated.
“Whilst Lieutenant General John Frewen is correct in stating that there are more than enough doses in Australia to vaccinate all children, this doesn’t necessarily mean that practices have sufficient stock in their fridge ready to go. The Government must improve the logistics so that enough stock arrives on our doorsteps when we need it.”
Dr Price said that more doses should be allocated to general practice.
“We need to recalibrate how doses are being distributed nation-wide,” she said.
“Children’s vaccine doses have been delivered to state-run vaccine hubs and general practices. The issue is that many parents and carers want to have their children vaccinated by their family GP because people know and trust them.
“We immunise children every year and have the training and expertise to make the experience as comfortable as possible. So, the Federal Government needs to work with the state and territory governments to make additional state and territory-allocated paediatric vaccines available for use in general practice.”
Tips on Making an Appointment for 5 to 11 years
Our ITC readers have provided us with the following tips:
- As much as you would like to use your local GP/Pharmacist, you may need to go to other suburbs.
- If you’re prepared to wait on the Vaccination telephone hotline – the operators have been able to find earlier appointments that are not online. The phone number is 1800 571 155. Be ready to put your phone on loudspeaker and do something else at the same time!!
- If you have time, drive out to Homebush/Sydney Olympic Park and talk to the people at the Homebush Health Hub (ask the people in Hi-Viz Vests where it is), and they have been able to arrange earlier appointments at Homebush Hub the next day or a few days later.
- One reader told us:
“FYI We chanced our arm going out today to Homebush at 3 pm for a walk-in. They said they don’t usually allow walk-ins but said to come back at 3.30 and if any leftover they’d try to get us in. They didn’t allow too many as were closing but we got it so so worth a try. They were so great too for the kids. The health hub there also has some extra Spots (offered us one for Friday but we go away before then).”
- Royal North Shore Hospital is not taking appointments for 5 to 11 years (at this stage), but Hornsby Hospital is (cancellations will come up from time to time).
- Check out all these websites below once or twice a day as cancellations do come up:
https://covid19nearme.com.au/state/nsw/vaccination – This site searches online booking systems like HotDocs and community pharmacies and details the earliest vaccination appointments.
At 3.00 pm on 11 January 2021, ITC used this tool, selected the Pfizer 5 – 11 and typed in Sydney as the location. A pharmacy at Rozelle popped up with appointments below:
The official Commonwealth vaccine availability and booking link is here. However, the feedback we have been getting is the data can be misleading. For example, the availability checker will show appointments on the day or week you are searching; however, they are not available when you go to book.
https://covidqueue.com/ – This site aims to find the nearest vaccination appointment for you.
Cover Photo: Our cover photo is from the Sydney Local Health District Facebook site.
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