Monday, 2 August 2021


THE recent decision of the State Government to redistribute up to 40,000 Pfizer vaccine doses, originally bound for rural and regional NSW, to South West Sydney to help quell the COVID-19 outbreak there, has understandably caused some people concern.


At the outset I want to stress this decision only involves the two public vaccination clinics in our region – at Armidale and Moree Hospitals – and I can confirm that NO Pfizer doses will be taken from these clinics. Every single dose of Pfizer we have in our region will stay here and be put in people’s arms, for their second dose or first jab for those in the priority 1A and 1B categories (as determined by the Commonwealth Government).


This decision does NOT impact any of the GPs and Pharmacists participating in the National Vaccination Rollout in our region either. Their current and future Pfizer dose deliveries are assured.


What this decision does mean for our two vaccination clinics is that scheduled deliveries of fresh Pfizer doses this month will be delayed, according to formal advice from Hunter New England Health, by four weeks, hence why hundreds of locals received text messages over the weekend cancelling their appointments.


I will continue to monitor Hunter New England Health’s adherence to this advice, to ensure what has been promised is delivered.


I want to assure those people that they will have their appointments rescheduled for Pfizer at those clinics, if they wish. Alternatively, they can make an appointment with their GP or Pharmacist for Pfizer or take the option of getting AstraZeneca right now at either of the clinics.


I realise and fully appreciate this is likely annoying, inconvenient and frustrating for the hundreds of locals who have had their appointments pushed back.


Unfortunately, with no extra Pfizer doses being provided to NSW by either the Commonwealth Government or other States to aid in this crisis, this tough decision was taken.


Through previous tough decisions over the last 12 months, we have successfully kept COVID out of our region for a long time. The biggest threat to that right now is the growing spread of the virus in South West and Western Sydney.


Make no mistake, we need to do everything we can to combat the COVID in Sydney, to crush it and keep it as far away from us as possible. I’d much rather us throw everything at it down there, rather than waiting until it reaches us here before we act.


The diversion of some of the Pfizer vaccines earmarked for our region is short term (four weeks) and we will continue to see more and more vaccines become available over the next few weeks. Country NSW will be the first to see that vaccine, including clinics in the Northern Tablelands.


But at the moment, just like when we saw huge bushfires ravaging our region last year and Sydney firefighting crews came in their hundreds to help us, it’s now our turn to do a little to help them.


It’s not a loss of vaccines, as we’ll get them all back and more in four weeks’ time. This is temporary, to fight an emergency situation down in Sydney and to hopefully stop it, before it spreads and crashes through our own front door.


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