HUNDREDS of community members are eager to receive their COVID-19 vaccine, with more than 300 people currently on South West Healthcare's Pfizer waitlist.
The service opened its waitlist up to the public last week, allowing eligible people to register their interest for when supply becomes available.
Yesterday SWH administered it's 24,000th vaccine dose.
Appointment 'no-shows' frustrating
But SWH vaccination coordinator Sue Anderton said people were failing to show up to their vaccine appointments.
"Demand's been really consistent over the last six weeks," she said.
"We book out (each week), however we do find lots of people are not showing up to their appointments.
"We all know the booking system is not ideal and frustrating for people.
"If people could be really mindful that if they book an appointment, they really need to attend if they can.
"The issue with our waitlist is that sometimes people put their name on it and are not available when we call them as well.
"It's a bit of a fine line between people getting through our waitlist and being available on the day at the time."
With more vaccines on their way to Australian shores, the service hopes to see an increase to the 520 doses it currently receives a week in Warrnambool.
"We don't get to determine our Pfizer allocation but like everyone else in Australia we assume our Pfizer allocation is going to increase, but there's no guarantee at this stage for anybody," she said.
"Supply's not unlimited; it's not meeting the demand, however we are vaccinating a lot of people.
"We would like to vaccinate everybody. That's not an option right now but hopefully by the end of the year that's an option."
Delta variant more virulent, more dangerous
Victoria and South Australia emerged from snap lockdowns on Wednesday morning, with low virus spread indicating fast, hard lockdowns were effective in stopping the highly-infectious Delta coronavirus variant spreading while the population waited to be vaccinated.
Every mainland Australian state except New South Wales has now used so-called "snap lockdowns" to halt widespread infections.
"It's more virulent, meaning it can actually cause more infection and it's more contagious so it can actually infect more people," SWH infection prevention coordinator Jenny Lukeis said of the Delta variant. "It mutates a lot quicker compared to the Alpha variant.
"Both the Pfizer and the AstraZeneca are extremely effective against the Delta variant and the Delta-plus.
"They are between 88 and 93 per cent effective against stopping you from being hospitalised which is absolutely amazing.
"The main thing is if you're eligible for a vaccination the best thing you can do if you're currently unvaccinated is to get vaccinated."
Reducing movement appears to be the most effective strategy against this dangerous variant.
"The virus can't replicate unless it jumps from one person to another," Ms Lukeis said on Wednesday, the first day out of Victoria's snap lockdown.
"We're very worried about indoor environments, that's why we're not allowed visitors to the home for two weeks.
"Keeping your distance is really important with the Delta strain."
She said in private home settings there were no QR codes, making contact tracing more difficult.
"A message to the whole community is QR-code everywhere every time so that if someone does test positive then contract tracers can start to immediately limit the spread."
That echoes Victorian Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton's message to Victorians on Wednesday.
"We're not saying that you can't see loved ones or family, but we are saying please see them outdoors because indoors is a risk setting," he said. "And when you multiply that by a couple of million homes across Victoria, that's a substantial risk increase."
Snap lockdown effective against Delta spread
SWH praised the tough but necessary decision to lock the state down to contain the Delta COVID-19 spread.
It's meant that health services like the Warrnambool Base Hospital and smaller rural health clinics have avoided being overwhelmed with infections.
"I think in Victoria we're lucky we've locked down very quickly and it's worked," Ms Anderton said.
"We haven't got hundreds of people in ICU and we don't have hundreds of people who are infected.
"We've done really well in this state and our vaccination rate is high so I think people can take confidence from that.
"Look at the evidence, lockdown worked."
COVID-19 testing has ramped up in the past two weeks with border closures, the outbreak in Melbourne and the cases in the Barwon region.
Since last Friday SWH tested about 400 people, and the week before that tested about 200 people a day.
The recent anti-lockdown protests were a kick in the guts to hardworking healthcare workers who risk their lives daily to protect the community against the virus.
"We want to engage with the people who do want to be vaccinated; we want to engage with the people who do want to help in the fight against the pandemic," Ms Anderton said.
Young people urged to consider movements until vaccines become available
The majority of young people are not yet eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine, despite being among the highest group moving around and becoming infected with the virus.
In the meantime they're urged to remain vigilant, speak to their GP and continue using QR codes wherever they go.
"We're probably looking at September to October at this stage before that age group are eligible which is something they can look forward to, be prepared for and if they need to speak to their GP that's something that they can do," Ms Lukeis said.
"The other thing that young people can do is consider their movements in their social groups and use QR codes - all those things until they can be eligible for a vaccination."
Children, pregnant women added to vaccine rollout
The addition of children aged between 12 and 15 years and pregnant women for the Pfizer vaccine could mean pop-up vaccine clinics at local schools.
The details of that rollout are yet to be finalised and SWH would take directions from Barwon Health when that time comes, Ms Anderton said.
"We won't be vaccinating children right at this point in time, that will be something that happens in the future," she said.
"Whether we will be helping at schools or not will just depend on supply and demand at the centre but it's something we may consider."
Warrnambool City Council nurses now working in collaboration with SWH may be engaged to help vaccinate local children.
IN OTHER NEWS:
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can access our trusted content:
- Bookmark https://www.standard.net.au/
- Make sure you are signed up for our breaking and regular headlines and newsletters.
- Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
- Tap here to open our Google News page.
- Join our Courts and Crime Facebook group and our dedicated Sport Facebook group