Covid vaccine rollout for kids slammed by parents, doctors: 'Ridiculous'

·6-min read

Angry parents have vented their frustrations after their children’s Covid vaccine appointments were cancelled due to lack of supply.

More than 35,000 kids aged between 5 and 11 were vaccinated against the virus on Monday, the first day of the rollout for the group.

However, numerous parents from across the country have said their appointments were suddenly cancelled this week.

Many took to Twitter to criticise the government’s rollout, with some deeming it an “absolute s**tshow”.

ABC news host Patricia Karvelas said her 10-year-old had been counting down to her vaccine appointment on Wednesday.

Brothers Louise and Harry Taylor-Bishop pose for a photo after receiving their first Covid vaccine at Kippa Ring Communication Vaccination Clinic, Brisbane, Monday. Source: AAP
Brothers Louise and Harry Taylor-Bishop received their first Covid vaccine in Brisbane on Monday. Source: AAP

“Just received this now: ‘Frustratingly the promised vaccines from the Fed Gov have not arrived … so your child's Pfizer vax appt has now been moved to Friday 21st Jan’,” she wrote online on Monday night.

“I am pretty savvy at booking appointments but after an hour on the coronavirus hotline I still can’t get an appointment earlier than three weeks away even though my child was booked tomorrow to be vaccinated. Beyond frustrated,” she added on Tuesday morning.

A slew of followers said they had received “exactly the same message”.

“No supply on day two?” one dad questioned.

“Same. My 11 year old booked for tomorrow. Just received text ‘… unfortunately due to not receiving our Pfizer stock, we need to postpone the clinic tomorrow. Your child will be automatically rebooked for next Tuesday 18th Jan’,” a Sydney mum said.

“I can't get a booking for my son until mid February due to lack of supply. Absolute s**tshow by Scott, am furious. One f**king job,” another mum said.

Parents travelling long distances to get kids jabbed

Some parents say they’re being forced to travel hundreds of kilometres to get their kids jabbed before the school year.

Jon Brooks, from Adelaide, told ABC he is planning on driving more than 220kms to a different part of the state after failing to obtain a local appointment.

“I have compromised immunity, I'm a lifelong asthmatic, and have some other issues I need to worry about, so for us vaccination is very important," Mr Brooks said, adding that appointments were “just disappearing”.

“We wanted to get him vaccinated as soon as possible. We found to get that done, we were going to have to go regional.

“It's simply ridiculous,” he said.

‘100 per cent having a supply issue’

Despite Prime Minister Scott Morrison assuring the public he was confident the vaccine rollout for children would be managed well and doses would be freely available, doctors say that is not the case.

“We are still waiting for our supply to arrive. We have approximately 1500 children aged 5-11. We have only been allowed to request 200 per week max,” Dr Maria Boulton Tweeted this week.

“We have emailed to request some more and are yet to receive a reply.”

“Kids and families deserve better. If this was foreseeable, where was the communication from government?” Dr Katy McAlphine said.

Anna Davidson, Director of the Port Stephens GP Super Clinic in NSW, told ABC’s RN Breakfast on Tuesday that her clinic has been allocated 50 vaccines a week but have the capacity for 500 a day.

“It’s an impossibility to try and think about how we’re going to vaccinate all the children before school when 50 vaccines a week just doesn’t cut it,” she said.

When asked about comments made by Lieutenant General John Frewen, the head of Australia's vaccine rollout, stating there was no issue with supply, Ms Davidson disagreed and said she believes there is a lack of understand on how GPs work.

“We are 100 per cent having supply issues,” she said.

“So apart from vaccines just not turning up, which is happening…the reality is we get allocated a maximum amount of vaccines we can order per fortnight — 100. So we can’t order more than once a fortnight.

“So it takes us an hour and a half to give our vaccines for the week, and then I cannot order again.

“So If they’ve got vaccine he needs to understand we can’t order it. And even if he changed it today I would have to scale up the staff, I have staff off sick with Covid.”

Vin Valzan, 10, becomes one of the first children in Queensland to receive their first Covid vaccine at Kippa Ring Communication Vaccination Clinic, Brisbane, Monday, January 10, 2022. Source: AAP
Vin Valzan, 10, becomes one of the first children in Queensland to receive their first Covid vaccine in Brisbane. Source: AAP

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Karen Price said urgent action was needed to ensure children got vaccinated.

"We must ensure that vaccine supplies reach practices so that GPs and general practice teams can get on with the job of vaccinating our children," she said on Twitter.

"With term one of school fast approaching, action is needed."

What might be behind the vaccine delays?

Archa Fox, an associate professor and ARC Future Fellow at the University of Western Australia. has broken down the possible reasons for the lack of vaccine supply for The Conversation.

She said the doses need to be transported in a certain way, including storing them in -80C freezers.

“There are a lot of steps in the transport process – from the supplier overseas to the shipping service bringing them to Australia, from their landing spot in the country, to specialised storage, to individual GPs,” she said.

“Each of those steps require staff on the ground to ensure the system works – and many workers in this system are likely being affected by Omicron,” the professor added, likening it to the staffing issues that have left supermarket shelves empty.

Large queues form on the first day of Covid vaccines for children at Kippa Ring Communication Vaccination Clinic, Brisbane. Source: AAP
Brisbane parents and their kids queue on the first day of Covid vaccines for children. Source: AAP

She said the vaccine rollout for the age group also “comes hot on the heels of the Christmas and New Year break”.

“Even without Omicron, it’s possible staffing numbers across the supply chain and logistics network are still yet to return to pre-Christmas levels,” she said.

“Clearly, something has fallen over somewhere in the distribution. It would be good to have some clarity from government and industry on exactly where the systemic problems are and what’s being planned to address them.”

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