Relief for under-39s as AstraZeneca rolled out at mass hubs
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It was with a sigh of relief that many under-39s lined up at the mass vaccination centre in Carlton for their first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
With appointments at the Royal Exhibition Building site booked out for weeks on Monday, health staff were busily jabbing residents eager to take advantage of the state government’s decision to make AstraZeneca available to all adults at nine of its 50 mass vaccination sites.
Politics student Ella Monaghan said “I want my family to be healthy and I know a few immunocompromised people. I want to know that I’m not a risk to them.”Credit:Penny Stephens
Politics student Ella Monaghan hopped online at 8am and snapped up an appointment for AstraZeneca. By 10.10am, the 21-year-old was out and walking home.
“I want my family to be healthy and I know a few immunocompromised people. I want to know that I’m not a risk to them,” she said.
Ms Monaghan said many friends had been trying to book in at GPs throughout the city, but not all had been successful.
“I think it’s definitely made it more accessible for young people,” she said.
Dara Knowles, 39, received his first shot of the AstraZeneca on Monday.Credit:Penny Stephens
“I didn’t even feel the vaccination, my nurse was great.”
For retail worker Dara Knowles, 39, it was the prospect of being able to safely visit his parents in Sydney that made him come forward to get the jab.
“My parents are really, really old and live in Sydney – I haven’t seen them since 2019.” he said.
He said he also wanted to be vaccinated to protect colleagues at work, given outbreaks have often struck retail outlets and workplaces that interface directly with the public.
Inside the mass vaccination site, dozens of Victorians were patiently waiting for their dose, reading the newspaper or idly flicking through their phones. Doctors hovered around, consulting the newly eligible cohort of people aged under 39.
The line for Pfizer still dwarfed the AstraZeneca queue. There were only about 400 appointments for AstraZeneca available compared to about 2000 Pfizer slots at the same facility, according to staff.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said more than 15,000 additional appointments had been made across the state following the policy change announced on Sunday.
“We’ll look to add more sites, we’ll look to have more vaccine available, we’ll have to have more appointments available over the coming days and weeks,” Mr Andrews said on Monday.
Inside the mass vaccination site, dozens of Victorians were patiently waiting for their dose, reading the newspaper or idly flicking through their phones. Doctors hovered around, consulting people under 39.Credit:Penny Stephens
Immunocompromised Simon Maher, 31, was getting his second dose of AstraZeneca on Monday and said it felt like his path out of the pandemic.
“It felt really good. It’s great to know that this is my ticket forward. This is all about that ticket forward,” he said.
“You know, you don’t see a person who’s immunocompromised. You don’t see that on the outside, you wouldn’t see that from my face or my actions, or how I present myself in public, so it’s really important for me because it’s allowing me to move more freely.
“I’m still going to wear a mask, you’re still going to take precautions, I’m still going to follow government guidelines, but it’s just that extra protection for me, for my family.”
Simon Maher said “it’s great to know that this is my ticket forward”.Credit:Penny Stephens
Primary school teacher James Johnstone tried and failed to book at clinics in Geelong last week, but after the government changed its rules about who could access the vaccine, he was able to book in at the old Ford Factory within half an hour.
“There were more people than they expected,” he said. “Health officials were really helpful, explained it all really quickly, and were really thankful we were there just getting it done.”
The 30-year-old said he didn’t understand why teachers still weren’t being given priority access to vaccinations.
“Being a teacher I’m exposed to such huge networks and it’s very hard for teachers to get it [the vaccine], which is kind of crazy,” he said.
The number of available appointments for AstraZeneca, only about 400, was much less than the number of people booked in to get Pfizer at the same facility, at around 2000, according to staff onsite.Credit:Penny Stephens
Caspar De Roij, 35, was also getting his second shot of the AstraZeneca and said he thought the vaccine rollout in Australia had taken far too long.
“Initially you can understand because it’s like we went for ages with no real COVID threat here so vaccination was less urgent,” he said.
He said the Victorian government should have made the decision to rollout the vaccine to under-39s much sooner.
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