Heavy rainfall and mass flooding is set to cause further delays to COVID-19 vaccine deliveries across NSW with some GP clinics forced to close.
Further delays are expected to vaccine deliveries across NSW as wild weather and heavy rainfall continues to lash the state.
A natural disaster has been declared in parts of NSW as authorities prepare to begin phase 1b of the vaccine rollout on Monday.
Deputy chief medical officer Michael Kidd said the distributors were doing everything they could to ensure timely deliveries.
“But there will be some inevitable delays due to the weather,” Professor Kidd said.
“Safety has to come first for the staff, patients and people delivering the vaccines.”
Professor Kidd said the scheduled deliveries were ready to go as soon as the roads were safe and general practices were able to reopen to receive the deliveries.
He was unable to provide details on the number of clinics or deliveries affected.
“We have to wait and see what happens with the weather over the coming days.”
But Professor Kidd said he remained confident they would meet their rollout targets under phase 1b.
Australia will on Monday begin phase 1b of its vaccine rollout which enables six million vulnerable Australians, including those aged over 70, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged over 55, and other healthcare workers to get the jab.
More than 750,000 people had already checked their eligibility via the health department’s website on Wednesday and Thursday last week.
“Tomorrow is an important day in the history of the pandemic in Australia,” Professor Kidd said on Sunday.
People eligible for the vaccine are now able to book in to receive the jab at more than 1000 GP clinics around the country.
More than 1000 scheduled deliveries have already been made but clinics will only receive 50 doses a week for their most elderly and unwell patients.
About 200,000 doses were allocated to GPs for the coming week and 50,000 doses to GP respiratory clinics.
Professor Kidd said not all clinics would begin vaccinations on Monday but were aware of their initial 12-week dose allocation so they could book patients in for the period.
About 4000 GP clinics have received vaccination approval and will come online as vaccine supply increases to 400,000 doses over the coming weeks.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration is expected to give CSL approval to manufacture the AstraZeneca vaccine at its Melbourne factory in the coming days.
Scott Morrison met with GPs at a roundtable in Melbourne on Friday.
At the meeting the Prime Minister reiterated calls for everyone to work together to ensure a “smooth roll out”.
His comments follow some GPs saying they were blindsighted when the online vaccination booking system launched last week.
The chaos prompted a blast from Labor, which accused the government of botching the system.
Health Minister Greg Hunt defended the rollout but did call for people to remain patient while there were limited vaccine supplies.
Phase 1a is expected to continue for up to eight weeks until all people in the group have received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.
As flu shots also become available, people are being urged to ensure there is a two-week gap between having a COVID jab and an influenza vaccine.
Professor Kidd said it did not matter what order people received the vaccines in but said it was important they were not given them at the same time.
Four new cases of COVID-19 were recorded in the past 24 hours, all which were in hotel quarantine.
About 60 people are in hospital with COVID-19 with two in intensive care units.
People feeling anxious about the pandemic are encouraged to seek mental health support.