COVID-19 Vaccine supply issues: we are unable to vaccinate without vaccine!

 In vaccination, COVID-19

Week 2 update: The main issue has been limited and inconsistent COVID-19 vaccine supply 

We are now in week 2 of the HHMP COVID-19 and flu vaccine clinic. The clinic has been running very well from when the patient comes in to when they leave. Our main issue has been the limited COVID-19 vaccine supply and the need to cancel appointments or limit bookings. This has been a national problem and has received significant coverage in medical and non-medical media.

The limited appointment availability as well as the need to delay and reschedule appointments has caused significant stress to our patients and staff. HHMP is doing everything possible to try to increase COVID-19 vaccine supply. In the meantime, please consider getting your flu vaccination done as plenty of vaccine is available for all ages.

HHMP Vaccination Summary and Plan for Week 3  

Weeks 1 & 2: COVID-19 vaccine = 200 doses given.

Weeks 1 & 2: Flu vaccine >200 doses given

Week 3 (starting 6 April 2021): No COVID-19 vaccine delivery received, so flu  vaccine only

 

Actions taken by HHMP to improve COVID-19 vaccine supply

As part of the expression of interest, HHMP committed to set up a stand-alone vaccination clinic to handle a large number of doses per day. Our capacity is about 300+ doses per week. We expected this to allow us to get through our most vulnerable patients is 4 week. The main issue is that we received only 80 doses in week 1 and 100 doses in week 2.  We had taken the following actions:

  1. Set up a vaccine clinic that can handle high volumes
  2. Set aside 2 dedicated fridges for COVID-19 and Flu vaccines
  3. Printed our own vaccination cards as well as pre and post vaccine forms (Not received by us despite being promised)
  4. Purchased our own 1ml syringes to get every single dose from the vial and increase patient safety (Not received by us despite being promised)
  5. Set up a vaccination clinic specific page on our website to help give patients all the information and facilitate the process
  6. Incorporated COVID-19 and Flu vaccine online bookings on our website
  7. Opened up every possible appointment considering the supply limitations
  8. Opened up on Sunday to receive a Friday delivery!
  9. Contacted Local Federal Member
  10. Contacted State Health Minister
  11. Contacted Federal Health Minister
  12. Dedicated 2 clinical staff to the vaccine clinic
  13. Hired 3 extra administration staff
  14. Added 2 extra phone lines

 

The issue is the COVID-19 VACCINE SUPPLY

Last week we were promised a delivery on 100 doses on Friday 26th of March by 5pm. This is for patients due to be vaccinated from 8.30am on Monday 29th of March. As everyone would understand, this makes it incredibly difficult to plan and manage bookings. We were faced with the issue of cancelling 100 patients in the short week of Good Friday.

It took much advocacy, multiple emails and hours on the phone to the vaccine information centre to be promised a Saturday delivery. On Saturday staff waited at the clinic from 8am to 6.30pm before being finally told that the delivery would not arrive. More advocacy, phone calls and emails followed. Finally on Sunday at about 1.30pm the vaccine arrived (100 doses, about the size of 3 iphones stacked on top of each other).  This meant we could vaccinate those booked for Monday.

The following week we were not so lucky. We started our advocacy from Monday in order to guarantee delivery by Thursday, but to no avail. We had to unfortunately cancel patients booked for the following week starting on the 6th of April. These patients were understandably unhappy by this as many had planned around their vaccine appointment. We were able to organise for many of them to have the Flu vaccine in the meantime. However, rebooking them remains a challenge without extra supply.

Our staff are working extra hard to manage all of this which would be totally unnecessary if the supply was there. Please be patient with our staff as they recently have had to deal with significant abuse and distress.

 

COVID-19 vaccination is essentially a community service 

HHMP planned to run a COVID-19 and Flu vaccine clinic to make sure local patients are vaccinated locally by the staff who know them and have access to their medical records. We have many elderly and vulnerable patients who need vaccination and sending them all over Sydney for vaccines does not fit with the HHMP ethos. This decision was taken despite the lack of viability of COVID-19 vaccine clinics especially when run with such low patient numbers due to the limited COVID-19 vaccine supply.

The vaccine clinic needs to run alongside our usual work. Significant human and material resources have been committed to the clinic.  Large areas upstairs have been set aside, significant medical supplies have been purchased, patient resources have been created and 3 staff committed fulltime. This is all to no-avail when we do not have the COVID-19 vaccine supply; instead of our staff vaccinating they are spending their time trying to chase deliveries and cancel patient appointments.

 

We understand your frustration 

HHMP continues to manage appointments as best as we can despite dealing with very large volumes of calls and booking requests. We understand the anxiety about vaccine access and will continue to do our best to improve the supply. Please be patient with our staff, they do not like to call and change your appointment, they would rather welcome you and ensure you have a safe vaccination. Please continue to check here, our vaccine clinic page and the online booking for further availabilities which will be opened as supply improves. In the meantime, please consider booking your Flu vaccine.

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