By Dominique Tassell
A Southern Downs medical centre has reportedly been denied doses of the Pfizer vaccine, even after purchasing equipment suitable for storing the vaccine.
The owner of the rejected centre says “it’s a scandal, isn’t it?”
The centre has the correct amount of parking to provide the vaccine to a large amount of people, separate rooms to store vaccines on their own, a backup generator that can sustain power in the centre for a week, and a freezer than can store the vaccine long-term at -90 to -20 degrees Celsius.
The centre bought the freezer specifically to stock vaccines, and believe they bought the last one in the state.
All the centre has been told is that they were not approved by the Commonwealth. Supply for General Practices is currently being looked after by the Federal Government.
Queensland Health is currently looking after vaccine supply for hospitals, and doing some vaccine clinics such as the clinic in Goondiwindi which ran from 25 June to 1 July.
The rejected clinic is a bulk billing clinic, while another clinic in the region that did get approved is a private medical centre.
The owner of the rejected medical centre says they have been losing money providing the Astra Zeneca vaccine because of the equipment required and the low vaccination rate.
They say they had “maybe 20 people” in to get the vaccine last week.
“We are losing money but doing it because we believe it’s the right thing to do.”
“Only having one private practice doesn’t look good to me,” they say.
Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi says that he thinks the problem comes down to supply.
“My personal view is that I don’t know why every GP wasn’t able to administer it. Because they do the flu shot. I mean, you just walk in to your doctor and they give you the flu shot and you walk out. It would have been, by far, the best from where I sit. Why they’re doing it differently to that, that was a political decision. And I wasn’t in the room to help make it.”
A representative from the Federal Health Department stated that “all participating general practices (including any in the Darling Downs region who have not been selected for commencement within July) will have the opportunity to administer the Pfizer vaccine later this year as vaccine supply increases”.
“Due to supply constraints, it is not possible to allow all eligible general practices access to the Pfizer vaccine in the first instance.”
They further stated that “practices in areas with limited access, such as regional, rural and remote areas have been prioritised to receive Pfizer vaccine initially”.
The Federal Health Department stated there are approximately 40 locations within the Darling Downs and Southern Downs who will be administering Pfizer in July.
At the time of print, only two clinics in the Southern Downs would confirm they were offering the Pfizer vaccine or would be in the future.
The only centre in the region currently offering the Pfizer vaccine is Carbal Medical Services in Warwick. Granite Belt Medical Services are expecting to be able to offer the Pfizer vaccine in mid-July. Nearby in the Darling Downs, the Pittsworth Medical Centre will be offering the Pfizer Vaccine in mid-July as well.
Queensland Health is currently offering both the Astra Zeneca and Pfizer vaccines at Baillie Henderson Hospital, however are not accepting walk-ins.
Those interested will have to register online first.
The rejected centre owner says it’s near impossible to get an appointment for a vaccine in Toowoomba.
“If you’re not from Toowoomba you have no chance.”
See this week’s paper for a full list of vaccine options in the area.