Newcastle state MP Tim Crakanthorp admits he’s ready “for the jab” following the announcement Newcastle will be home to one of the first COVID-19 vaccination hubs in NSW.
NSW Health is planning for 11 centres to dispense the vaccine – when available – throughout the state, including John Hunter Hospital.
Vaccinations are expected to be offered in phases, with some frontline health and quarantine facility workers to receive the injection in the early stages of the program.
Newcastle will offer the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which was granted provisional approval for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), to the Phase 1a priority groups in mid-February.
That comprises ambulance and patient transport staff; emergency department staff; critical care ward staff (ICUs and HDUs, ECMO and medical retrieval teams); COVID clinic and COVID testing staff (public and private); COVID ward staff; COVID immunisation clinic staff; COVID pathology lab staff (public and private); and workers at the Special Health Accommodation facility.
“It’s very exciting to see all the plans for the vaccine rollout start to fall into place,” Mr Crakanthorp said.
“With quarantine workers being in the earliest phase, it makes perfect sense to see the initial hubs created at RPA, Westmead and Liverpool hospitals.
“But, I’m thrilled that Newcastle won’t be far behind in the first phase of vaccinations.
“Even with several months without cases of COVID-19 in the Hunter, there are vulnerable members of our community who are understandably still very concerned about an outbreak.
“So, I hope that kicking off this vaccination process gives them some peace of mind and the sooner this happens, the better.
“Ensuring frontline health care workers, who have kept us safe throughout the pandemic, have access to the vaccine is critical and I am glad locals will be at the front of the queue when the vaccine is rolled out in NSW.”
Mr Crakanthorp also alleviated any potential fears about the program.
“This vaccine would not have been approved by the TGA if it hadn’t passed the appropriate checks,” he said.
“I have every confidence in its safety and I’ll definitely be lining up for the jab when it reaches my age group.”
If vaccine supply increases during Phase 1a, additional hubs, spokes and outreach clinics may open, too.
Eligible staff will be informed by their employer about how, when and where they’ll be able to get vaccinated.
Other healthcare workers are scheduled to be prioritised to receive a vaccine from Phase 1b.
Once more doses become available from Phase 1b, it is expected that one or more COVID-19 vaccines will be available for the wider population through usual immunisation providers, including GP practices, GP respiratory clinics and Aboriginal health services.
The commonwealth will lead on implementation for the residential aged care and disability care sectors.