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Vaccination clinics to wind down over Christmas

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The state’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics will scale down opening hours over Christmas and the New Year, authorities have confirmed, despite the race to fully vaccinate 90 per cent of the eligible population by the end of the year.

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The Opposition claims the state’s biggest hub at Wayville is set for a two-week closure, from December 21 to January 4.

However, authorities say closure dates are yet to be confirmed.

A spokesperson for Health Minister Stephen Wade told InDaily: “Planning is underway for determining opening hours over the Christmas and new year period for all our clinics across the state.”

SA Health says it will provide information on clinic opening times ahead of the Christmas period so people can plan ahead.

It comes as two Qantas flights from Melbourne to Adelaide were this morning identified as close contact exposure sites.

Latest SA Health figures show 82.4 per cent of South Australians aged 12 and over are double dosed, with the Premier this morning reiterating a goal to reach 90 per cent by Christmas.

Opposition health spokesman Chris Picton condemned the move to cut clinic hours over the festive season.

“We know how important it is to lift our vaccination rates to get to 90 per cent,” he said.

“The State Government and the Transition Committee have made it very clear that restrictions will be lifted when we get to 90 per cent… so I think people will be shocked to know the Government have decided to close down the Wayville mass vaccination clinic for two weeks over the Christmas and New Year period.

“That means that people who are now getting their vaccine today are not going to get their second dose in three weeks when they could potentially be getting it.

“People booking their appointments today can only get their second appointment on 5 January – unnecessarily delaying the state reaching 90 per cent double dosed.”

Premier Steven Marshall said they could get their second dose at another clinic.

“My understanding is SA Health look at the load in terms of vaccination, where it’s best to be placed, that’s served us extraordinarily well,” he said.

“I haven’t seen the full data on exactly what dates it’s going to be closed but yes, there will be times when we actually move to a lower level vaccination.

“We are getting towards the end of that vaccination. There will be a further surge next year because a lot of the people eligible for the booster come on line March, April, May next year.

“And of course we may need to get it stood up much further if we get that final approval with regards to the five to 11 year olds.”

Marshall said it was hoped those children could start being vaccinated from January 10 after final approvals and an education campaign.

Asked if he was concerned if daily vaccination numbers dropped significantly, Marshall said: “There’s not that many people that haven’t had that first dose,” he said.

“So of course there’s a significant drop off in the number of people getting their first dose. We are now well over 90 per cent of South Australians who are 12 and over who have had at least one shot.

“Yes, there’s a very significant reduction in those people getting the first dose and that’s logical because there are far fewer people that are eligible.

“That will increase again when we allow 5 to 11 year olds.

“SA Health takes that all into account when they determine what vaccination clinics will remain open.”

In a statement, a spokesperson for SA Health said: “Planning is underway for vaccine clinic opening hours during the Christmas period.”

“We encourage South Australians to book or walk-in for vaccinations as soon as possible so they can protect themselves and their family during the festive season,” the spokesperson said.

“We thank our hard-working vaccination staff for their incredible effort in vaccinating the community this year.”

Meanwhile, Marshall has denied he only decided yesterday to disband the state’s Transition Committee when the state reached its 90 per cent vaccination target, following an announcement by Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas that he would chair the Transition Committee as Premier if he wins the election.

Marshall said the decision to disband the Transition Committee at the 90 per cent vaccination rate was made “four or five weeks ago” because the committee is responsible for lifting restrictions, and most will be lifted once the rate hits 90 per cent.

“We’re heading towards that 90 per cent fully vaccinated status for those 12 and over,” he said.

“The Transition Committee will do the work on removing those restrictions but after that the COVID Ready Committee, which quite frankly meets minutes after the Transition Committee each week, and often they basically move from one room to the other, the COVID Ready Committee which is the major principal committee, will continue after that.”

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