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Childhood vaccine supplies on track as workforce 'issues' hamper rollout

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The State Government insists there will be enough supply of paediatric COVID vaccines for South Australian children aged five to 11 to receive their first dose before school returns – but says there are workforce “issues” in being able to administer the jabs.

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Premier Steven Marshall yesterday told reporters “we’ve got no problems whatsoever” with supply for the first dose.

Children aged five to 11 are now eligible to receive the vaccine, but some GPs have complained about delays in receiving their orders and some families have reported having appointments cancelled or being unable to find an appointment.

SA Health deputy chief executive Don Frater yesterday told a parliamentary committee there were about 144,000 SA children in that age cohort, but that SA Health was only expecting to receive about 70,000 doses by the end of the month, when school is due to return.

However, he said further doses would be received by and administered in the private sector, by GPs and pharmacists.

“We have more demand than what we have supply,” Frater told the committee.

“My advice is that some practitioners have had difficulty with the delivery of their doses that they have been allocated and that they would like more allocation than what they currently have.”

Marshall later told reporters that any “issues” around vaccinating children would be more about workforce than supply, and he said the Government was “ramping up” opportunities.

“SA Health does around about 50 per cent of all the vaccinations in South Australia,” he said.

“We have 144,000 five to 11-year-olds – not all of them are going to want to have that vaccination, but we certainly have our 50 per cent ready to go with the first dose.”

Marshall said the private sector – GPs and pharmacies – “will be getting their distribution separately”.

“So we’ve got no problems whatsoever with the first dose and of course there are new doses coming in all the time so there will be no problems,” he said.

“The issue at the moment is just workforce to get those jabs into the arms but as you can see we are ramping up those opportunities all the time.

“We’re looking at all and every opportunity to get those into the arms of young South Australians so I think it’s moving in the right direction at the moment.”

Senior SA senator and Federal Government senate leader Simon Birmingham yesterday tweeted that with public and private supply, SA would receive “more than 140,000 doses to cover every 5-11 year old in SA whose parents want a first dose”.

“Scheduled childhood vaccination deliveries into SA sites are: 54,700 doses last week , 40,000 doses this week, 45,500 doses next week,” he said.

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