QUESTIONS continue to be asked on vaccination delays for the deadly coronavirus in Ballarat, without any confirmation of the first jab in the region.
More than 2000 Victorians have received their first Pfizer jab against COVID-19 since Monday.
This follows confusion among private aged care homes in Ballarat with at least two vaccination bookings cancelled late in the region this week and others still awaiting further details. A Bendigo private aged care residence started inoculations for its residents on Tuesday while at least one facility in Bendigo had its jabs cancelled.
Ballarat federal MP Catherine King, Labor's former opposition health spokeswoman, questioned the delays. Ms King reiterated the importance Prime Minister Scott Morrison deliver on his promise that four million Australians be vaccinated by the end on March.
Pfizer vaccine doses arrived in Australia early last week, on schedule to start the phase 1a roll-out across the nation for top priority healthcare workers and aged care residents.
Our community has done the hard work of stopping the spread of COVID, I know everyone would be disappointed by any delays to vaccinations.Catherine King, Ballarat federal MP
"Vaccinations are our way out of COVID 19. It is essential that the Morrison Government rolls out vaccines as quickly and as efficiently as possible," Ms King said.
"The Federal Government alone is responsible for vaccinating Australians in [private] aged care. We know that aged care homes and older Australians are especially vulnerable to this virus. It is essential they aren't left waiting.
"Our community has done the hard work of stopping the spread of COVID, I know everyone would be disappointed by any delays to vaccinations."
Ballarat Health Services is ready to roll-out its vaccination program but has not yet answered questions in the media. BHS will host a media update on Friday to detail its plans for the region and its role as a Pfizer vaccination hub.
The federal government is responsible for the vaccination roll-out to private aged care providers across the nation. Earlier this week two residents in Queensland were given an overdose on the vaccine with this contributing to national delays.
About 70 aged care homes' residents have received the vaccine, despite the government expecting that figure to be 240 by the week's end.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt defended the delay, insisting the rollout would be on track. The federal government concedes public confidence in the vaccine rollout has been affected by the excess dose bungle.
Healthcare Australia has the federal contract for the vaccination workforce in New South Wales and Queensland, and Aspen Medical is responsible for the other states and territories, including Victoria.
It has been a frustrating scenario for staff in Ballarat private aged care. Those who spoke to The Courier detailed the extensive work in preparing for vaccinations and the uncertainty in late cancellations made by Aspen.
Public aged care staff and residents, as well as high-priority healthcare workers are a state health department responsibility. The new Grampians Public Health Unit, within BHS, will in turn oversee this for the region.
Neither the federal or state health departments would confirm to The Courier whether any jabs had been made in the region.
The state health department pointed back to details revealed late last week that Barwon Health (based in Geelong) would trial an outreach model for public sector aged care, starting this week. This would then be adopted in regional Victoria.
Other major regional hubs, including Ballarat, would "begin operating in the coming weeks".
Geelong Advertiser also reported more than 400 healthcare workers in the greater Geelong region had already received the Pfizer jab by Wednesday afternoon.
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