DON'T panic and don't forget your GP.
That's the advice of Orange general practitioner Dr David Howe when it comes to administering COVID-19 booster and children's vaccines.
Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD) was this week urging everyone in the region to book an appointment for their booster as soon as possible, with demand expected to increase after the approved interval after the second dose of COVID-19 vaccination was reduced to three months.
WNSWLHD Chief Executive Mark Spittal said the reduced interval means that most people who received their vaccinations at a WNSWLHD clinic supported by the Australian Defence Force will be eligible for their booster from January 21.
The ADF, which administered 4000 jabs in Orange, won't be returning for the booster campaign prompting concerns pharmacies and general practitioners would be further swamped.
While Dr Howe said he was working extra hours to cover demand, he said he was happy to do it.
"I'm not actually swamped, I suppose the pharmacies, being in retail, are getting a lot of passing trade but we're just taking appointments," he said.
"If you wanted a booster today, we'd get you in today ... I'll do a couple of extra hours on the weekend to meet the demand."
Dr Howe said he would prefer his surgery's patients came to him for vaccination boosters.
"As a general practitioner, I want to vaccinate all my own patients. When you get them going to pharmacies or the ADF you lose touch with them," he said.
"There's no way we can follow different people up if they go to different places all the time. If they come to one place we can send reminders, things like that ... that's what general practice should be about."
As an added incentive for kids, Dr Howe has installed a photobooth to encourage the vaccination of children in the 5 to 11 age bracket, the latest cohort added to the vaccination eligibility.
Mr Spittal said the WNSWLHD vaccination hubs in Bathurst, Orange and Dubbo were all offering booster appointments.
He also encouraged parents to book their children in to be vaccinated as soon as possible as demand for appointments for the 5-11 years ago group remains high across the region.
"Our hub clinics were booked out for children's vaccinations through until February 4 but we have increased the capacity of those clinics next week to get more children vaccinated before school returns later this month," Mr Spittal said.
"We will triple the number of appointments available for children aged 5-11 at each of the hubs in Bathurst, Dubbo and Orange every day next week and parents are now able to make a booking for their child to secure one of these extra appointments. Our mobile clinics are also offering children's vaccinations along with boosters too.
... WNSWLHD hubs and clinics are not the only places to receive a vaccination or booster.WNSWLHD Chief Executive Mark Spittal
"Remember, WNSWLHD hubs and clinics are not the only places to receive a vaccination or booster. In fact, we play a smaller role in the wider vaccination roll-out and the majority of vaccinations are delivered through GPs, pharmacies and the primary care network.
"So if you can't find an appointment for yourself or your child through one of our clinics, please try to book one through a GP or pharmacist as soon as you possibly can.
"Vaccination remains the best protection we have against serious illness from COVID-19 and it is also the best tool we have as individuals to protect ourselves, our loved ones and our entire community."
For more information on COVID-19 vaccination and to book an appointment visit the Federal Government's COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder.
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