Not all Port Stephens GP clinics happy with vaccine rollout process and progress

ROLLING OUT: Dr Paul Burford displays the COVID vaccine packaging and fridge at his medical clinic in Williamtown, where the vaccinations have commenced.
ROLLING OUT: Dr Paul Burford displays the COVID vaccine packaging and fridge at his medical clinic in Williamtown, where the vaccinations have commenced.

The vaccine rollout has commenced in Port Stephens but not all clinics are happy with its progress, nor the process.

According to the vaccine eligibility checker (healthdirect.gov.au), there have been a number of practices within Port Stephens who have begun vaccinating those people eligible under phase 1B.

A spokesperson for the Hunter New England Primary Health Network (PHN) said that most practices had been contacting their patients in the past few weeks and advising those that fit into the 1B eligibility criteria to contact the practice and organise an appointment.

However, experiences of the two medical centres to respond to the Examiner's inquiries have been vastly different.

Port Stephens GP Super Clinic director Anna Davidson told ABC's Patricia Karvelas they had spent about $25,000 on a new fridge and other improvements so they could vaccinate up to 500 patients a day.

Instead the clinic has been advised it will get 50 vaccines a week for the next 12 weeks. "We were pretty gobsmacked and patients are angry. The clinic has 12,000 patients and at that rate it would take eight years to vaccinate the clinic's own patients, let alone any other members of the community."

The news was brighter at the Central Health Alliance in Williamtown, where Dr Paul Burford said there had been a smooth roll out since vaccinations began on March 23.

"We have been vaccinating between 40 to 100 patients a day and we have bookings for the next 12 weeks," he said.

"We have allocated a separate room for the vaccinations to take place, which includes a one-on-one consult and where possible we are keeping the rooms open later at night and on weekends."

Dr Burford said that his patients came from the wider Port Stephens region, and it was recommended that people have their first and second shots at the same clinic.

"With the flu vaccinations on their way, it is crucial that people understand they cannot receive the flu shot within two weeks of having received the COVID jab."

The PHN spokesperson added that many practices were experiencing a hectic period with the rollout because practices were only currently receiving from 50 to 100 doses a week.

Port Stephens practices on the list include medical centres at Anna Bay, Salamander Bay (Central Avenue), Soldiers Point (Soldiers Point Road), Shoal Bay, Tilligerry (Lemon Tree Passage Road), Central Health Alliance Williamtown and Raymond Terrace Family Practice.

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