THE south-west is no closer to knowing when its Pfizer allocations for those over 40 will be replenished, with demand severely outstripping supply.
South West Healthcare's community vaccination centre services from west of Colac to the South Australian border.
It's had one supply of Pfizer for the 40 to 49-year-old group; 500 doses which were booked out in three hours last Friday.
Now almost a week on, SWH is yet to hear when it will get another supply of the vaccine.
The service doesn't have enough supply of AstraZeneca or Pfizer for walk-in appointments.
Health Minister Martin Foley said Barwon Health, the service coordinating vaccines for SWH, was in charge of distributing the jabs to Warrnambool and surrounds.
"The constraints are all around what we get in and our friends at Barwon Health coordinate the distribution from Geelong through to the border - the biggest network in the state," he told The Standard via Zoom on Thursday.
"We want to make sure all the constraints that they are operating under in the Barwon south-west region all the way to South Australia are dealt with quickly and as fairly as possible
"The inescapable reality is they are constrained and we are constrained, by the amount of vaccine that we get in and we are seeking through our local public health networks in your part of the world to do that as fairly and as equitably as possible.
"We hope as more vaccines come in - both Pfizer and AstraZeneca - that these kind of issues can be dealt with quickly."
The south-west will not be made a priority site at this stage.
Minister Foley said "if we had the supply we'd send it" to the south-west.
"The issue of how it's allocated on a risk basis by health services is in this case, a decision for Barwon, and they are actually doing an extraordinary job at Barwon.
"Their levels of vaccine delivery started high and have continued high.
"But we do not for a moment pretend there isn't a massive demand out there.
"We can only say that as we get it, we are getting it out the door.
"At the moment Victoria has got the highest efficiency rate of 93 per cent of the vaccine getting out.
"You can only get 93, or 100 per cent, of what you're given and Barwon tell us they would love to get more, they've got more capacity.
"At the moment (Warrnambool) is one of the many challenges that we're trying to deal with across the state."
Barwon Health's Kate Bibby wouldn't respond to questions around how many vaccines were distributed to the Warrnambool region compared to Geelong.
"This important partnership sees clinics set up both in Warrnambool and throughout the region, with Warrnambool receiving a vaccine supply commensurate to the size of the population and demand," she said.
"Our public health unit is working closely with South West Healthcare to help train and accredit their staff to help manage the distribution of the vaccine and prepare them for future increased demand."
Coronavirus commander Jeroen Weimar said the Barwon south-west region was the first outside metropolitan Melbourne to get its vaccine program underway.
"Barwon was the first region in Victoria to get going," he said.
"There is a national constraint on vaccine supply but that said, it flies pretty quickly from our hubs to the regional network.
"There is a huge demand out there for vaccinations."
The squeeze on supply is expected to last until September.
"The Commonwealth tells us AstraZeneca being produced here in Melbourne is for the national program and Pfizer is coming from overseas, and they're not really going to get big volumes until end of August, to September, so we're kind of working along with fairly constrained supplies in Australia as a whole," Mr Weimar said.
"Clearly we've seen a massive upsurge in demand in in Victoria from two weeks ago with with the outbreak. And that's clearly kind of jolted everybody into a sense of we want to get this done now.
Cameron Peverett, president of the Principals' Association of Specialist Schools, said the schools were not being treated as a priority unless local hospitals made their own arrangements to provide vaccines earlier than planned.
Minister Foley said the priority groups were set by the Commonwealth and weren't a decision for the Victorian government.
"I can see the argument for teachers, but the priorities are set nationally and we're obliged to follow those.
"Half of all adult Victorians are over 40 and are now eligible in one way, shape or another, to get into the system.
"Yes, there are difficulties getting in, but whether it's teachers at specialist schools or teachers more broadly, we'd love to bring them in as a priority group if the vaccine were available to allow that to happen and if the strategy of identifying priority groups was agreed through the national processes.
"I have deep sympathy and a deep respect for the great work that particularly specialist school teachers do, and I'm sympathetic to their argument, but again it gets back to that difficulty of supply and based on risk assessment nationally, which groups should be prioritised.
"Even in a really risky group like private residential aged care, we've still got some way to go for those groups."
Regional families will continue to be barred from visiting loved ones in hospital and in aged care without exceptional circumstances for the foreseeable future.
"Aged care, as we've seen nationally and internationally, is a really risky environment," Minister Foley said.
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