17 June 2021

Canberrans quarantine as Sydney exposure sites grow; vaccine rollout revised again

| Dominic Giannini
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Andrew Barr

Chief Minister Andrew Barr has announced a change to the ACT’s vaccine rollout following new advice released today (17 June). Photo: Dominic Giannini.

Four people in Canberra are isolating after visiting COVID-19 exposure locations in Sydney as the number of sites of concern continues to grow.

There are now three positive COVID-19 cases, the original case being a driver who transported an international flight crew. His wife and a second woman in her 70s who visited an exposure site have also tested positive. NSW Health is scrambling to find how the driver caught the virus.

Exposure locations have now popped-up in Bondi Junction, Castle Hill, North Ryde, Redfern, Zetland and Vaucluse. A full list of exposure sites can be found on the NSW Health website.

Canberrans who travelled to Sydney over the long weekend are being urged to regularly check new exposure locations and follow the relevant protocols if they have been to an exposure site.

As NSW races to contain the growing cluster, the vaccine rollout went through another revision after the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) updated its advice.

The Pfizer vaccine is now preferred for people under the age of 59.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is now only recommended for people aged 60 years and above unless otherwise advised by a medical professional depending on a person’s specific circumstances.

The change to the rollout came just a fortnight after the ACT opened up bookings at its Pfizer hub in Garran to people aged between 40 and 49.

READ ALSO National Cabinet strikes a deal on COVID-19 payments

The ACT’s COVID-19 booking line will no longer accept appointments for the AstraZeneca vaccine for people aged 50 to 59 years from today (17 June), Chief Minister and acting Health Minister Andrew Barr said.

“The priority over the coming days will be to reschedule these people for a Pfizer appointment,” he said in a statement.

People aged between 50 and 59 who have already had their first AstraZeneca dose without experiencing any serious adverse effects are still encouraged to get their second shot.

Mr Barr said the ACT would continue to work with the Commonwealth to confirm Pfizer’s supply and availability and assess the current capacity of the ACT’s vaccination clinics.

“We are asking any ACT resident aged 50 to 59 years who has not yet booked a vaccine appointment to be patient while we work through these changes,” he said.

“When we are in the position to open more appointments to this age group, we will let the community know. In the meantime, if you are aged 50 to 59 years, please do not contact the COVID-19 booking line.

“We will continue to provide updated information and advice to the community as it becomes available. Delivering a safe and effective vaccine program remains a priority for the ACT Government.”

It is unknown how this new development will impact the construction of a second Pfizer clinic in Canberra, which the ACT Government flagged a fortnight ago.

READ ALSO ACT Government takes reins on disability vaccinations and modifies Garran centre

The ACT currently receives around 6000 to 7000 doses of Pfizer from the Commonwealth each week.

The Commonwealth Government plans to increase the number of doses the ACT receives each week, but exact figures have not yet been released as the ACT Government continues to negotiate supply.

Last week, Ms Stephen-Smith said supply projections from the Commonwealth were not where the ACT wanted them. Ms Stephen-Smith refused to elaborate on the numbers, saying it could harm negotiations with the Federal Government.

The Garran centre can currently administer around 7000 jabs a week.

For more information about COVID-19 and the vaccine’s rollout in the ACT, visit www.covid19.act.gov.au.

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Why do people trust these so called leaders in their field for advice? They simply say ‘ it was the best advice we had at the time’ as an excuse for their mistakes. Surely these smart people can make their own decisions and not follow others blindly?

Vaccine hesitancy is a rational response to perfidious government changes to vaccine eligibility as risks rise with each AZ vaccine related death. Health officals are gambling with our lives in their attempt to get rid of a stockpile of now unwanted AZ vaccines by foisting them on the elderly. Best to just write off AstraZeneca and focus on safer and more efficious Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

I haven’t been vaccinated. I want Pfizer but get told too bad so sad, get AZ. No, I want a choice and it ain’t AZ

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