Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Covid 19 vaccinations at local level - a personal experience

When Australian  governments announced that those in group 1b ( essentially Australians over seventy) were eligible for covid-19 vaccination with the AstraZeneca vaccine I held off because I knew that supplies were limited. Then, with all the controversy over the AZ vaccine, the suggestion that supplies were available because people were refusing it, I decided to move. The results were instructive. 

I went to the Government website to identify local GP suppliers. The site said that my GP clinic was not taking bookings, so I went to another GP clinic that was. They said that they were only getting fifty doses per week. More, that they did not know how many doses they would get to the end of the week before. They were now fully booked to the end of May. They suggested that I try my own GP clinic even though they were not taking bookings. I did so. 

My GP clinic said that their supply was limited. They were working through from their oldest patients down and were now to 82 year olds. However, as it happened, they had just had a cancellation. If I came in immediately, I could be vaccinated. I did so and now am. 

I got in because  the dose would have gone to waste otherwise. As I got my shot, the clinic was full of much older Armidalians getting their jabs. The oldest was born in 1929. 

When I came home I listened to stories about metro based mass vaccination centres intended to speed the process up. Am I wrong to wonder why governments shouldn't fix up the existing distribution system first on the supply side?! Am I wrong to think that these centres will attract preferential supply and make the existing position in Armidale worse?  


Neil said...

Jim, I wondered exactly what you did! Why can't I just have it through the Wollongong Medical Centre as is the case with the flu vaccine? BTW I haven't even asked yet. When in the regular course of events -- running low on other medications -- I see Dr Nguyen I will ask, but I suspect I will get the flu jab as usual in April/May and the COVID? God knows....

marcellous said...

D, with whom I live, is 1b on health grounds. Once he decided to go ahead he was able to get his first "jab" with only a little shopping around. As far as I can gather, this was at a special facility set up by one of those corporatised chains of GP practices.

It is so hard to work out what is really going on, given the government's preference for treating this as an "on water matter." We can't/won't even be told what supplies are in hand or what rate of production in Australia by CSL (now risibly being described as Australia's "sovereign" capacity - hullo, it was sold off) is being met or likely to be met in the future.

Most charitable explanation is that the Govt needs to keep its cards close to its chest for the purpose of dealings with overseas suppliers. Hard to tell if that is so or whether it is just a reflex management approach.

Hard to tell now when if ever there will be sufficient supplies for the projected "final sprint" but if there are (the Govt has to profess there will be because otherwise how can it ever say the task will be achieved?) it is hard to see how GPs would be able to cope with this. Many people, even in 2a (50-70) and even more in 2b (<50), especially if without children and otherwise in good health don't really have their own GP - especially in metropolitan areas where this isn't forced on them by doctor scarcity. Their "GP" is just the last bulk-billing medical centre they went to.

marcellous said...

Rather a lot of "hard" in my last comment. Sorry about that. Seems a word can get lodged in one's brain. I'll go for a bit more elegant variation next time.

Jim Belshaw said...

Interesting comments. Neil, there is a Commonwealth on-line facility that allows you to identify clinics in your area. I would check and follow up. The decline in demand for AZ should be helping. My view is get in when you can.

marcellous, I think that lack of transparency and communication is not helping, nor are the scares around AZ. These affected me. They are also feeding into the constant ant-vax stream. Then I looked at the stats. Obviously, if I do get an adverse reaction I will be sorry. But the odds are so low.

It's good that D was able to get his shot. Australia is a big country with great variation that affect logistics. Armidale has a very skewed demographic. Rapid growth in the fifties, sixties and seventies and early eighties was followed by contraction.Those who left were the more mobile in child rearing age, creating an aging bulge Then, finally, came renewed growth as people moved back. Armidale's two growth sectors are now child care on one side, old people's villages and homes on the other.

I suspect, I don't know, that the initial rationing of doses was based on rough demographics plus equity and will be altered with time. In Armidale's case and excluding health workers, another big group in this town, my best rough estimate is that on current allocations it will take twelve to fifteen weeks to jab group 1b. So we are looking end July perhaps end August before shots can be made available to those under seventy.

Your comment on GP clinics is instructive. When I was in Sydney and rarely went to the doctor, I always used the mass bul billing clinics. The world now is a little different. Among other things, I am now old enough to require an annual eye sight check to maintain my license. Interesting how these requirements suddenly make one feel older for the first time!

marcellous said...


Just an update here. There's definitely an urban-rural divide and also so much mixed messaging.

Yesterday I went to the nearest medical centre to my home and had the AZ shot on the spot. I'd seen beforehand that they were offering injections, and I've been there before, but I was just a "walk-in." In and out within 25 minutes including the 15-min post-jab observation period.

Whilst there I overheard the receptionist speaking to someone: "Your mother booked herself and three of you in for today but you nobody turned up." (This is an ethnically Chinese medical centre - not too much concept of privacy!) They rescheduled for the same time next week. Will they show then? Same problem as restaurant bookings, I guess.