14 July 2021

ACT plans for Pfizer ramp up, public transport check-ins now in force

| Dominic Giannini
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Chris Steel and Rachel Stephen-Smith

Transport Minister Chris Steel and Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith checking in on a Canberra bus. Photo: Dominic Giannini.

ACT Health is planning to ramp up its delivery of the Pfizer vaccine next month after the Federal Government announced an expedited shipment of 4.5 million doses.

But the vaccine rollout continues at a sluggish pace. Less than 15 per cent of people over the age of 16 are fully vaccinated in the ACT and less than 10 per cent nationwide.

According to Federal Government data released today, vaccine supplies have just ramped up to 1 million doses a week.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the ACT Government was analysing supply forecasts to determine whether enough doses are coming to justify a third Pfizer hub, whether the current hubs at Garran at the Airport can be boosted or whether the AstraZeneca hub at Calvary could be repurposed.

READ ALSO Canberra Writers Festival postponed after a second COVID-hit year

“We are planning on the forecasts we have available to us. Those obviously change from time to time and we have to adjust our planning,” she said.

Ms Stephen-Smith said discussions needed to continue with the Commonwealth about pharmacists joining the rollout and whether that would include the Pfizer vaccine or be delayed until Moderna became available.

“All of those things are on the table,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

“We have not made any decisions yet, but that planning is continuing based on the projections we have received from the Commonwealth.”

The Pfizer hubs at the Airport and Garran are booked until 23 and 24 August, respectively. Appointments remain available for the AstraZeneca vaccine at Calvary as bookings slowed following recent confusion about eligibility.

ACT supply projections before today’s announcement showed that its Pfizer allocation would almost double in July and August to between 17,000 and 19,000 doses per week before increasing again between 34,000 and 50,000 doses per week around October and December.

The ACT will also receive 1000 to 2000 doses of Moderna a week from September, and this will jump to 7000 and 10,000 doses per week from October.

Nurse preparing COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine

The ACT is considering opening a third Pfizer hub, depending on supply. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

With the transmissibility of the Delta strain continuing to strain NSW’s contact tracers, the ACT has made it mandatory to check in on public transport using the Check-In CBR app from today (14 July).

Travellers who do not have the app will be checked in through their MyWay card, although this will take longer. It will also take longer for contact tracers to access the data compared to the Check In CBR app.

Passengers will not be required to check out with Check In CBR.

It is also now mandatory for Canberrans to check-in at supermarkets, petrol stations, takeaway services, clothing stores and department stores.

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Ms Stephen-Smith defended health advice to remove the mask mandate last week, saying that while people were being encouraged to wear one in areas they could not socially distance, such as public transport, the Chief Health Officer deemed the risk low enough to not make it mandatory.

“The risk to the ACT community remains low. We have a small number of people travelling from Greater Sydney to the ACT region [and] those people are required to get exemptions and to go into quarantine,” she said.

“Should there be a need to mandate masks anywhere, the Chief Health Officer will not hesitate to do that.”

Prolonged mandates also run the risk of compliance dropping as people become more jaded, Ms Stephen-Smith said.

READ MORE ACT identifies 26 residents linked to Goulburn exposure site, construction exemptions unlikely

In the ACT, there are currently two close contacts from interstate exposure sites in quarantine, 165 people who have come from a COVID-19 affected area are also in quarantine and 1400 people are subject to stay at home orders.

In total, there are 264 people in quarantine, which includes overseas arrivals such as diplomats and officials.

No new cases have emerged in Goulburn since the exposure last Friday (9 July).

For the latest COVID-19 advice and information, visit ACT Health.

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We wouldn’t need to check in on public transport if only we had some sort of electronic ticketing system that could collect information about passengers

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