ANMF seeks Minister’s response over potential vaccine inequities 

23 March 2021

Following concerns from members over lack of access to COVID-19 vaccinations, the ANMF (SA Branch) has written to the Minister for Health and Wellbeing seeking clarification in relation to the rollout of the Phase 1a vaccination schedule in South Australia.

The ANMF (SA Branch) is supportive of both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccination and ultimately herd immunity.

The advice from the Commonwealth, Department of Health was that Frontline Healthcare Workers, Quarantine Workers and Residential Aged Care and Disability Care Facilities would receive the Pfizer vaccination.

Our assumption was that all eligible frontline health care workers would be receiving the Pfizer vaccination as has been the case in other states and territories. This would allow this at-risk workforce immunity within a seven-week period and also reduce the risk for those they come in to contact with during the course of their work (who are also deemed high risk).

Additionally, frontline health care workers would be ‘work ready’ in a shorter timeframe should we see a rise in COVID-19 cases and admissions across the state and need to activate the workforce.

Recently we have been made aware by members that only pockets of frontline eligible 1a Phase workers are being offered the Pfizer vaccination. While we appreciate that the Royal Adelaide Hospital was the first identified Pfizer Hub in the state, members that are at equally high risk and were promised the Pfizer vaccination are questioning why they are being disadvantaged.

The current SA Health information page states that: The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be used initially during the Phase 1a rollout. This vaccine has met the rigorous safety standards of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). This vaccine requires two doses, 21 days apart. Detailed information can be found on the TGA website.

This information appears to be at odds with the rollout of Phase 1a vaccinations for our members. ANMF (SA Branch) is therefore seeking clarification and assurance on the following:

  • All eligible 1a Phase rollout frontline workers have access to the Pfizer vaccine to ensure immunity and protection for those most at risk;
  • That members can access the Pfizer vaccine at an alternative hub if they are within scope.

Furthermore, we are seeking the Department’s position on members who are seeking the Pfizer vaccination based on medical advice (i.e. may be starting treatment such as chemotherapy or IVF in the near future and consequently would need the COVID-19 vaccination completed in quick succession).

It is our position that members with exceptional circumstances, such as when acting on medical advice, should be able to present at a different hub within their LHN or outside of their LHN to access the Pfizer immunisation.

At present this is not permitted by the Department.

To be clear, these are not members who are anti-vaccination, they are those acting on the advice of medical practitioners.

We have asked the Health Minister for his response to the above matters which have been raised by a large group of our members who are highly concerned about potential inequity amongst the vaccination hubs.
Read the letter to the Minister here.