RESIDENTS eager to receive a COVID-19 vaccine have expressed their frustration at missing out as the south-west struggles with vaccine supply.
The shortage has seen bookings for first doses of the Pfizer vaccine through the state's COVID hotline halted for this week with appointment times to be progressively made available next week.
At South West Healthcare's Community Vaccination Centre, this week's doses of the Pfizer vaccine were exhausted within hours for the second time.
Ahead of the weekend, SWH announced another 500 Pfizer doses to be administered on Tuesday and Thursday.
Much like the week before, the appointments were snapped up that day, much to the dismay of residents who took to the hospital's Facebook page to express their frustration with the low supply of vaccines.
"Unable to book - no dates available again," one resident said.
"All appointments gone now at Warrnambool."
"No appointments again."
"I just missed out."
Pfizer supply is limited, the hospital warns, and is only available for the following priority groups: residential disability and aged care, emergency services workers, healthcare workers and people in the 40-49 year age group.
Chief executive Craig Fraser said there had been a huge increase in the number of south-west residents receiving their first dose of both AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines over the past few weeks.
"It is pleasing to confirm that in excess of 12,000 people have received their first vaccination through the SWH vaccination centre," Mr Fraser said.
"This is a fantastic result as we work towards our entire community being vaccinated as we receive more supply.
"In addition, a large number of people across our region are now due for their second dose of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccine, so you will notice SWH will be focusing on delivering second doses of vaccinations in coming weeks.
"We would like to encourage those who are due their second dose to ensure they do get their second dose to be fully vaccinated and should check for emails or a text message from SWH."
First doses of AstraZeneca are currently unavailable through SWH and those due for their second dose of Pfizer in the region will receive an email invitation.
On Tuesday there were substantial appointments available for those requiring a second dose of AstraZeneca on the online booking portal.
Walk-ins have been paused across the region as the state grapples with a shortage supply.
Warrnambool's second vaccination centre, the newly-opened Great South Coast Respiratory Clinic on Fairy Street, is only receiving 100 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and is booked up weeks in advance.
The clinic is part of the federal government's rollout
Clinic project coordinator Jessica Haberfield said the organisation didn't know when they will receive Pfizer doses.
"We just have AstraZeneca, we don't have any option to provide Pfizer at the moment," she said. "We're pretty much awaiting news from the government on when we will be providing that.
"Our allocation is 100 doses a week and we're fully booked out weeks in advance.
"We do try and accommodate people as much as we possibly can.
"There's absolutely a demand for Pfizer which we unfortunately can't provide.
"When patients do come in we book their second dose appointment as soon as we can. As per the TGA we administer the second dose between a four to twelve week period, which we often book towards the end of that period.
"We definitely want to see more supply; we want to get the community vaccinated and we want to roll it out as quickly as we can.
"It's just about making sure we're keeping the community safe.
"There's definitely been a lot of interest which is really encouraging."
Interest in the vaccine has been high right across the region, including in Timboon when hundreds of community members rolled up their sleeves on June 5 to be vaccinated.
Timboon and District Health Service community health director Tanya Wines said the Timboon Clinic on Hospital Road would be running an AstraZeneca clinic this Saturday, June 19.
People must book ahead on 5558 6088.
"At this point in time in our community the Timboon Clinic is the place to call," Ms Wines said.
"We would absolutely welcome more doses and we will accommodate whatever is required of us, which is ultimately up to the Department of Health and Barwon Health.
"The response to the two clinics held on June 5 was amazing and we were thrilled to be able to provide that service to the community.
"I suppose wherever there's demand, the supply goes. It's a bit of a wait and see situation really and there's multiple factors involved including supply and people willing to be vaccinated.
"We encourage everyone to get vaccinated."
Health Minister Martin Foley said the vaccine rollout was being hampered by the limited doses arriving from the federal government.
"If more doses are delivered by the Commonwealth, we will be able to increase the number of bookings for first doses as well," he said.
Victorian testing commander Jeroen Wiemar on Tuesday said Pfizer doses were expected to drop even further next month.
"We are part of a supply chain from the Commonwealth; the Commonwealth gave us around 100,000 or so Pfizer doses during the month of June," he said.
"That's allowed us to really get going with getting a lot of people vaccinated with Pfizer over the last three or four weeks in particular, that's been a really good thing.
"We've got sufficient supply, and we've managed sufficient appointments to ensure that all those people who've had their first dose can get their second dose in the next three weeks.
"It means there'll be fewer people getting their first doses while we go through that second dose surge over the next three weeks, when we get into July.
"We've been told to expect fewer doses of Pfizer overall in July so we will go down to around 40,000 or so doses a week of Pfizer, when we get to July, unless of course we're able to get more vaccines at that point."
He could not say when the vaccine rollout would be expanded to those under 40.
In a tweet, chief health officer Brett Sutton reassured those waiting up to six weeks for their second Pfizer jab.
"Getting your second dose anytime between three and six weeks after first dose is fine. The higher range dosing interval at least equivalent for immunity, and possibly even better," he wrote.
DHHS said in a statement Victoria followed the advice of Australia's technical and medical experts - ATAGI, which recommended second doses of the Pfizer vaccine three to six weeks following the first.
"The vaccine booking hotline offers Victorians the ability to book a second dose within this window. We recommend all Victorians who have not yet booked their second dose to do so by calling 1800 675 398."
The recommended interval between two doses of Pfizer is at least 21 days, and it is recommended to complete the two-dose course within six weeks.
To date there have been 797,472 vaccine doses given at Victorian state-commissioned services and more than 1.7 million doses across state, general practice and Commonwealth programs in Victoria.
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