COVID-19 outbreak combats vaccine hesitancy

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NSW has opened up Pfizer to the general public aged 40-49, while older people are eligible for AstraZeneca, in line with federal guidelines.

However, The Herald has heard some people who want to be vaccinated but are determined not to get AstraZeneca are going to great lengths to get Pfizer. Many people are concerned about the rare clotting risks that can emerge with AstraZeneca or a perception, rebutted by public health experts, the vaccine is less effective.

The NSW Health vaccination hubs are delivering both vaccines. Since last Monday, NSW Health has vaccinated more than 73,000 people including 31,000 at the Sydney Olympic Park vaccination hub alone.

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Some people are speculating about whether they can put in a false date of birth when they make their booking in the hope that their ID will not be checked thoroughly by busy health workers.

A NSW Health spokesperson said everyone who attended a COVID-19 vaccination centre would be assessed for eligibility in person on the day of the booking and there would be “a robust process of identification”.

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“The vaccination roll-out, like the public health response to the pandemic so far, requires the support of the public to ensure it is successful and that the most vulnerable members of our community are vaccinated first, in line with the priority groups set out by the federal government,” the spokesperson said.

Dr Price said half the population over the age of 70 had been vaccinated and it was urgent to reach the other half.

She said the initial rollout was frustrating when GPs did not have enough supply because of the production issues and international AstraZeneca issues, but GPs were now “hitting our straps with the supply” and the government had increased both the volume of vaccines to general practice and the number of GPs in the network.

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Dr Price said GPs were keen to start administering Pfizer vaccines as well but did not expect it until the second half of the year, except at GP respiratory clinics.

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