Port Stephens residents eligible for the second phase of the COVID vaccine rollout can expect to receive their first jab early next month.
Federal Member for Lyne Dr David Gillespie told the Examiner on Tuesday that a large number of General Practices from the Hunter, including at least two from Port Stephens, would join the vaccination program from next week.
"The Pfizer vaccination for frontline workers including those in hospitals and aged care facilities have begun with staff from the John Hunter Hospital among the first in the Hunter to be vaccinated," he said.
"Phase 1B of the rollout will see 1,000 GPs across Australia delivering COVID-19 vaccines for our elderly (over 70s) and immunocompromised, progressively increasing in number to more than 4,000 by the end of April.
"They will receive the AstraZeneca vaccination, which by the end of March is expected to be producing a million doses a week."
Mr Gillespie, who has been isolated for three days on his farm, said that he expected minor delays to some regional areas of the state due to the torrential rains and flooding over the past week.
He said that feedback from the majority of GPs he had contact with had been positive.
"We all know the invaluable work our local GPs do for our community, now we will see them play a vital role the COVID-19 vaccine rollout," he added. "This includes general practices in Williamtown and Salamander Bay."
Australians eligible for Phase 1B will be able to find a vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service, at the Department of Health website.
"This will enable people to locate their nearest general practice providing vaccinations and link through to their online booking system or phone number to make the appointment.
"Vaccines are the game changer in our fight against the COVID-19 virus and I urge everyone in Australia to come forward and get vaccinated when they are able to. It will protect themselves, their family, and their community."
Federal Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the rollout would continue to grow in the coming weeks.
"This staged scale up will align with the supply of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine, and as more vaccine becomes available more services will come online," Mr Hunt said.
"General practices will play a major role in ensuring all Australians who seek to be vaccinated have access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. We are committed to making sure that every Australian that wants a vaccine will be able to be vaccinated."
Phase 1B includes vulnerable groups, such as older people and people with certain underlying medical conditions. No-one is better placed to support these people than our general practices.
More than 100 Aboriginal Health Services and 130 Commonwealth operated GP-led respiratory clinics, who have been instrumental partners in the COVID-19 response to date will also be progressively added as additional vaccine providers.
Appointments on the service finder will increase as general practices establish their systems and vaccine supply. More appointments will become available as more clinics come on-board.
"People will still be able to book their vaccine appointments directly at a participating general practice - as they do now, for instance, to get a seasonal flu vaccine," Mr Gillespie said.
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