Raymond Terrace Respiratory Clinic was being swamped with COVID-19 vaccination appointments from people aged 50 years and over following the commencement on May 3 of the federal government's continued Phase 1b rollout.
Dr Damian Welbourne, co-owner of the Raymond Terrace Family Practice which operates the respiratory clinic, said that bookings from the over 50s age group had been strong on the first two days of operations.
Bookings had been made from as far as Lake Macquarie, Dungog and Bulahdelah as well as all parts of Port Stephens.
"We had over 330 bookings just on the first day [May 3], which meant we have had to reopen our clinic on Thursday evenings and Saturdays. But we have ample supplies [the clinic receives 800 a week compared to most GP clinics which receive just 50] and we have plenty of appointments available," Dr Welbourne said.
The government announcement stipulated that the over 50s would be able to access AstraZeneca vaccinations via respiratory clinics only from May 3.
The rollout would be extended to all participating GPs from May 17.
A Health Department spokesperson said that the Pfizer hubs would operate for people aged under 50 years.
Dr Welbourne said that as the Port's sole respiratory clinic, established in March 2020 initially to undertake COVID-19 testing, had vaccinated well over 1000 people since they began vaccinating on March 22.
He said two jabs 12 weeks apart was required and the vaccine was free and would not require a prescription.
"We have received very positive feedback from the vast majority of people who come through our doors eager to receive the vaccination. But understandably there are a small number who are hesitant and have questions for the doctors. There's a lot more risk not to have it, than to have it."
It remains unclear how many of the Port's GP clinics will be participating in the latest rollout from May 17.
According to the government's online eligibility checker, a number of Port Stephens clinics are not taking vaccination bookings under the original Phase 1b rollout, which includes healthcare workers; critical and high risk workers; people aged 70 and over; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 55; and adults with an underlying medical condition or significant disability.
The Nelson Plaza Clinic is taking part in the vaccination rollout but recently director Anna Davidson told media outlets 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 would get 50 vaccines a week for the next 12 weeks.
Other clinics currently taking bookings for the over 70 years age group include:
- Salamander Medical Clinic, Central Ave
- Bay Doctors, Soldiers Point Rd, Salamander Bay
- Tilligerry Medical Practice
- Tomaree Medical Centre, Trevally St
- Medowie Family Clinic
- Health in Abundance, Medowie
- Central Health Alliance, Williamtown
- Terrace Central Surgery and
- Clarence Town Medical Centre
For bookings at the Raymond Terrace clinic go to app.respiratoryclinic.com.au/register/14 or call (02) 4983 0900.
The clinic appointments will be run through the front Raymond Terrace Family Practice entrance off Jacaranda Avenue.
To keep updated with participating clinics from May 17, go to covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au and enter your age and postcode.
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