Bathurst walk-in vaccination clinic hopes to boost capacity in coming days

WAITING FOR THE NEEDLE: Residents lined up outside the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre on Monday. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 090621cvaxque2
WAITING FOR THE NEEDLE: Residents lined up outside the Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre on Monday. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK 090621cvaxque2

On the opening day of walk-in COVID-19 vaccinations, Bathurst Memorial Entertainment Centre reached capacity in just minutes, with people queued from as early as 6am on Monday to secure a jab.

At 9.36am Monday, the Western NSW Local Health District posted to their Facebook page that the clinic had exhausted available vaccines, 36 minutes after the doors opened.

In response WNSWLHD chief executive officer Scott McLachlan stressed the walk-in clinics, run in partnership with the Australian Defence Force, can only administer 500 doses a day, with increases to volume high on the agenda.

"We're continuing to look for increases to the volume of vaccines we have available, given new shipments of the Pfizer vaccine are rolling into Australia as we speak," Mr McLachlan said.

"It's important for those who intend to queue realise that AstraZeneca is also a safe and highly effective vaccine, and we know over longer periods of time that it's more effective than Pfizer.

"Waiting times are very short for AstraZeneca, so I'd encourage people: especially those over 60, but also anyone under 60 who is able to receive it: to seriously consider this option."

BIG TURNOUT: The queue for BMEC's walk-in vaccination clinic on Monday was backed up to Keppel and George streets. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

BIG TURNOUT: The queue for BMEC's walk-in vaccination clinic on Monday was backed up to Keppel and George streets. Photo: CHRIS SEABROOK

Pfizer is unavailable for people over 60 at the BMEC clinic, and are encouraged to seek alternative arrangements if they do not wish to receive AstraZeneca.

The clinic will be open from Tuesday to Saturday, 9am to 4.30pm, with residents from Lithgow, Oberon and Blayney also accepted.

While acknowledging people travelled to the clinic from eligible areas on Monday, Mr McLachlan stressed the numerous other opportunities Lithgow, Blayney, Oberon, and indeed Bathurst residents have to seek a vaccination.

"For a number of weeks, these communities have had ample opportunities to book a vaccination appointment for either Pfizer or AstraZeneca, and these opportunities will continue into the future," he said.

"These walk-in clinics are not the only solution for people seeking a vaccination: there's plenty of GP's, Aboriginal medical services, pharmacies and respiratory clinics that have vaccines and appointments available today for people wishing to book."

"The ADF will also be holding a pop-up clinic later in the month for Lithgow residents, and we understand the 500 people we are able to vaccinate daily throughout BMEC this week won't be a solution for everyone."

The WNSWLHD recorded 44 new cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8pm on Sunday evening, with 35 of them in Dubbo.

The new figure brings the total number of active COVID cases in the WNSWLHD to 831, including 30 in Bathurst, who experienced zero new COVID cases for the second day in a row.

Mr McLachlan said Sunday's figures sadly included the death of an unvaccinated woman in her 70s from Enngonia, which further highlighted his message for residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible.

"The vaccination rates have certainly increased in recent weeks, but we've still got some way to go yet," he said.

"This death is a sombre reminder of the tragic outcomes that can happen when unvaccinated people contract COVID."

Mr McLachlan has also encouraged the district to show up for COVID testing, with numbers "concerningly low" over the weekend.

"Across the district, only 2400 people showed up for testing on Sunday, so I urge everyone to not leave the home with signs and symptoms unless you're going to get tested," he said.

For updates on case numbers, testing facilities and vaccinations, visit the WNSWLHD Facebook page.

This story In just 36 minutes this clinic was out of vaccines first appeared on Western Advocate.