New outbreak shows Australia must get vaccinated by ‘whatever means necessary’

Matt Woodley

26/05/2021 4:38:04 PM

The revelation that three of the new COVID cases in Victoria had not been immunised despite being eligible has spurred calls for authorities to open up vaccination hubs to whoever presents.

State vaccination clinic.
Mass vaccination clinics in SA and NSW have further expanded the people who can receive vaccinations in an effort to not waste doses. (Image: AAP)

At the time of publication (5.00 pm Wednesday 26 May), Melbourne’s outbreak had 12 locally acquired cases – 10 of which had been registered in the previous 24 hours.
The latest spate of cases, believed to have once again emerged from hotel quarantine, includes three people in their 60s and 70s who were eligible for vaccination but were yet to receive one.
But while many general practices still have long waiting lists for COVID vaccine appointments,a number of mass vaccination clinics are operating well below capacity, leading states like NSW and SA to further expand the people who can receive shots in an effort to not waste doses.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price told newsGP the revelation that three of the new cases had not been vaccinated despite being eligible reinforces that Australians have fallen into complacency and health authorities must do everything possible to vaccinate people as quickly as possible.
‘We need to get Australia vaccinated by whatever means necessary. We are a sitting duck here,’ she said.
‘For someone who had eligibility to have caught COVID, with vaccines available, just seems a real challenge to me as a public health issue.
‘So if mass vaccination clinics wish to literally put their doses into any arms that are presenting, I’m all for that. And if general practice gets increased allocations and expands its use to Pfizer vaccines, I’m all for that as well.’
But Dr Price was also clear in saying there still needs to be a particular focus on ensuring vulnerable people have access.
‘Trying to match up the demand to the vaccine availability seems to have been a bit fragmented,’ she said.
‘GP clinics that have got the capacity should be able to have the doses to deliver into the arms that are presented, because we’ve clearly shown even with limited supply, that is where patients are preferring to go.
‘[But] it’s clear that we need more doses to those places that are successfully vaccinating.’
Victorian Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton has confirmed the new locally acquired cases have contracted the B.1.617 strain that first emerged in India, which is 50% more transmissible than other variants of concern, but the latest reports suggest both Pfizer and AstraZeneca are ‘highly effective’ against this strain.
‘It was only a matter of time before an outbreak like this occurred, and we will continue to see virus incursions like this despite our best efforts,’ CSIRO Health and Biosecurity Director Dr Rob Grenfell said.
‘This latest virus incursion in Melbourne is a sober reminder that anyone who is eligible for vaccination should go out and get their shot.
‘The more people who are vaccinated and immune, the more we’ll be able to protect those most vulnerable in our communities – our parents and grandparents, friends and loved ones.’ 
Meanwhile, Queensland University of Technology public health expert Professor Emeritus Gerry Fitzgerald warned Australia could see 50,000 deaths should the disease break out ‘as it did in the US and throughout Europe’.
Victoria has vaccinated more people than any other state, but is only ahead of Queensland and NSW in terms of doses administered per 100 people.
Primary care continues to lead the way overall, with more than 2,061,000 doses (from a total of 3,725,000) administered by general practices nationwide, despite limited supply and concerns over vaccine hesitancy.
But Dr Price said the ‘welcome change’ that general practices are now able to load share, combined with the ‘game-changing’ Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) decision to loosen storage requirements for Pfizer, should mean more people than ever can get vaccinated by their usual GP.
‘It’s really important that general practice has access to Pfizer, especially given what’s going on in Melbourne,’ she said.

‘We need to be mindful that we still have vulnerable people in the community who are not vaccinated and we need to be mindful that a lot of those people are preferring to go to their GP.
‘If there are clinics with vaccines that they’re not able to deliver for whatever reason, they can be moved into other areas of the community, which do need more vaccines.
‘There’s been complacency and a false sense of security, and Melbourne has shown just how false that is. There’ll be no security until people are vaccinated. None.’
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Dr Elias Youssef Samaha   27/05/2021 7:58:51 AM

Here is the problem... Eligible for one type of vaccine , and given no choice...
Some won’t mind getting vaccinated if given the option .

Dr Dai-Bang Van Nguyen   27/05/2021 11:39:15 AM

Yes, Dr Elias Samaha is right! The majority of my over 50 year-old patients refuse to get vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca COVID19 vaccine! They want either Pfizer or Moderna COVID19 vaccines!