Local GPs begin vaccinating patients in next phase of battle against COVID-19


24th March 2021

Updated 22 April 2021

 

Local GPs began vaccinating patients on Monday, 22 March as Phase 1b of the national COVID-19 vaccination program rolled out at general practices, respiratory clinics and Aboriginal health services across South Western Sydney.

Tharawal Aboriginal Corporation Chief Executive Officer, Darryl Wright, and Uncle Ivan Wellington were the first to be vaccinated at Tharawal Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS) in Airds.

Mr Wright said he felt only a “twitch” when the vaccine was administered.

“We have all had needles in our life for the prevention of diseases like Chickenpox and flu shots, some people are scared about it, but that needle didn’t hurt, it was just a twitch,” he said. “I would say to everyone, don’t be afraid, it’s not only for your own good but for your family.”

 

“I would say to everyone, don’t be afraid, it’s not only for your own good but for your family.”

 

22.3.21 - Tharawal vax - Dr Heather McKenzie and Darryl

Darryl Wright

 

Dr Dong Hua, who is operating the GP-led respiratory clinics testing for COVID-19 at Campbelltown and Fairfield, said he was pleased to be one of the first respiratory clinics to administer the vaccine and encouraged all eligible community members to book an appointment.

“The vaccine is our best chance to fight the spread of COVID-19,” he said. “It will help to protect those who are vulnerable and help us to get on with our normal lives again.”

 

“The vaccine is our best chance to fight the spread of COVID-19.”

 

DrHua_March21

Dr Dong Hua
 

South Western Sydney Primary Health Network (SWSPHN) is supporting the region’s 187 general practices and four GP respiratory clinics, and Tharawal AMS, who are administering the AstraZeneca vaccine as part of Phase 1b.

The Phase 1b priority group includes:

  • Elderly adults aged 70 years and over
  • Healthcare workers not already addressed in Phase 1a of the vaccine rollout
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 55
  • Adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability
  • Critical and high-risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing

SWSPHN Chief Executive Officer, Dr Keith McDonald PhD, said all eligible general practices who confirmed their participation were being progressively included in the rollout over a four-week period.

“I would encourage those who are in the priority groups to use the Vaccine Eligibility Checker on the HealthDirect website to confirm their eligibility and make a booking to be vaccinated,” he said.

 

Update:

Following advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation on 8 April, the Pfizer vaccine is now preferred over the AstraZeneca vaccine for adults aged under 50 years.

This recommendation is based on the increasing risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 in older adults (and therefore a higher benefit from vaccination) and a potentially increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following AstraZeneca vaccine in those under 50 years.

AstraZeneca can be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that person.

People who have had the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without any serious adverse effects can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years.

The Australian Government has ordered an extra 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine. It is anticipated that these extra 20 million doses will be available between October and December this year.

 

Mr Wright said there had been a strong uptake of the vaccination amongst the local Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“When we advertised it, and let people know that the vaccines were here for Elders 55 and up, within 10 minutes we had 80 people booked,” he said. “It’s about keeping healthy – we want to ensure that our Elders and those with chronic disease in particular, don’t get the coronavirus.”

Dr Hua was among the frontline health workers who has received the second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

He encouraged anyone who is hesitant about getting the vaccine to talk to their GP, saying vaccines will be administered by a trained immunisation nurse or practitioner. “The vaccine has undergone vigorous testing, and there is good evidence it’s safe and effective,” he said.

Dr Eva Constantinidis, a GP at Tharawal AMS, received the AstraZeneca vaccine on 22 March.

She said wide-scale vaccination would play an integral part in moving forward from the COVID-19 pandemic by reducing the risk of people acquiring and transmitting the disease.

“The evidence shows it’s particularly important in reducing severe COVID and the need for people to be hospitalised.”

 

“The evidence shows it’s particularly important in reducing severe COVID and the need for people to be hospitalised.”

 

Dr Constantinidis said 80 patients had had the vaccination on the first day.

She said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 55 and those with chronic conditions including diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, respiratory disease, and conditions causing immunosuppression, were eligible to be vaccinated under Phase 1b of the vaccination rollout.

“Those who are unsure can phone or come in for a face-to-face consultation to discuss their eligibility.”

Vaccine Eligibility Checker

22.3.21 - Tharawal vax (30)   

Dr Heather McKenzie and Uncle Ivan Wellington

 

22.3.21 - Tharawal Dr Health McKenzie

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