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A little patience: Kids' jabs begin as vax boss denies supply-chain issues

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The head of Australia’s vaccine rollout has denied there are supply issues in doses for children as parents raise concerns about not being able to get bookings.

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Lieutenant General John Frewen told the ABC reports of parents struggling to get their children booked in “doesn’t stack up with preparations in place”.

“There are thousands of bookings ready to go (on Monday) and will happen across the country,” he said on Monday.

“If there have been circumstances of people having trouble finding a booking I’m not going to contest that, but for every one of these anecdotal stories there are many thousands of positive stories.”

It comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison expressed confidence the vaccine rollout for young children is on track.

“There are 6000 places where people can go (for a child vaccination),” the prime minister told reporters in Canberra on Monday.

“There are 835,000 vaccines in those places right now as of last Friday and more would have been added to that since then – if you can’t get it from where you would normally go, know there are other places where the vaccines are on the shelves.”

And an Australian and Canadian study has revealed the biggest benefit of childhood vaccination will be seen in adult populations.

Professor Michael Good, from Griffith University’s Institute for Glycomics, said the study, in tandem with the University of Alberta, showed that childhood vaccination carries minmal risk but can result in large reductions in COVID-19.

The research used mathematical epidemiological model to forecast the effect of childhood vaccinations on the number of COVID-19 cases, hospitalisations, deaths, complications and vaccine adverse effects.

Lt Gen Frewen conceded he is not surprised if there are minor concerns about bookings with millions of children becoming eligible on the same day.

There are three million doses available over January for the 2.3 million children now eligible.

“There is a lot of people getting vaccines very quickly right across the country so I encourage a little bit of patience and a little bit of persistence and I have no doubt they will get access to vaccines in the week ahead.”

Lt Gen Frewen says the majority of more than 10,000 vaccination points are joining the rollout of the children’s vaccine, encouraging parents to keep trying to find appointments amid concerns practitioners are booked out.

“If you are having trouble at the moment, maybe with your normal GP or healthcare provider, please do try pharmacies and maybe one of the state or territory clinics as they come online,” Lt Gen Frewen told the Seven Network.

“There are new appointments coming online every day, there are going to be walk in opportunities as well.”

There were 10,000 deliveries across the country last week and a further 11,000 scheduled for this week, he said.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Karen Price said it was a mixed experience from the perspective of GPs.

“From what I’ve heard, it’s around staffing issues in the logistical supply chain. There has been lots of furloughing of transport staff,” Dr Price told the ABC on Monday.

Dr Price said GPs were telling their college they had the capacity to administer more doses, with there being caps on the number of vaccines a practice can receive in a week or fortnight.

“It would have been nice to have some contingency there so a bigger dose amount could’ve been delivered to offset some of the patchiness of what has been going on,” she said.

“We are hoping there will be another way, which has been happening in the boosters, where if you are going through your supply more quickly you can apply for increased amounts.”

Lt Gen Frewen also said the booster program continued to ramp up after millions more Australians became eligible less then a week ago.

More than 60 per cent of eligible people had received their first dose before the timeframe between shots was brought forward to four months on January 4.

The number of newly eligible people dropped the uptake rate to 30 per cent but this had already increased to over 40 per cent in a weeks, Lt Frewen said.

“We have had a massive uptake of boosters over the last couple of weeks, we have been having record days almost every day.”

“We’re seeing really strong uptake. It is very pleasing.”

NSW on Sunday recorded 30,062 cases and its highest number of deaths since the pandemic began, at 16 fatalities.

Victoria posted a further 44,155 infections and four deaths.

Elsewhere, Queensland reported 18,000 new cases, Tasmania 1406 and the ACT 1039.

Queensland also announced it will delay the start of the school year by two weeks as a result of increased virus infections.

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