A MASS vaccination clinic with the capacity to administer 15,000 doses a week in the Hunter will start on a smaller scale until COVID-19 vaccine supplies become more readily available.
Hunter GP Dr Craig Richards, of The Lorn Surgery, expects to administer about 300 doses of AstraZeneca at a vaccination clinic at Maitland Showground on Thursday.
But he said the clinic could vaccinate more than 2000 people a day when Pfizer vaccine supplies increase towards the end of the year.
"Most of the population that is not vaccinated needs Pfizer, so that is where the bulk of it will be," Dr Richards said.
"We have the capacity if there is enough interest and there is enough vaccine supply. I don't think that will happen until Pfizer is available in large quantities, but we certainly have a large capacity with this space. With an efficient set up, you could quite easily do up to 15,000 vaccinations a week."
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Dr Richards said they had been surprised by the level of interest in the AstraZeneca clinic, which was originally scheduled to operate from 9.30am to 12.30pm on July 22 but may now continue well into the afternoon.
"I thought we were just trying to mop up the stray people who still wanted it, were over 60, and hadn't managed to get into their GP to get a vaccine," he said.
"But we have actually had quite strong demand, and we will probably have to run some extra clinics to get through all the bookings."
He suspects the Sydney outbreak had prompted some people to act now, but the clinic was also more accessible for people living in the Hunter.
"Because we have had no cases, it has allowed people to sit back and wait and watch," he said. "And I think a lot of those people are now thinking they don't have time to sit back and wait and watch any longer - particularly with the recommendation of a 12-week gap between vaccinations for AstraZeneca. That's potentially a long time to make sure you get a good immune response.
"There definitely is a need for a vaccine hub up here in the Hunter, we just hope we have enough vaccine supplied to us.
"We'll scale things up and down depending on demand and vaccine supply."
The vaccination clinic will be held in the McDonald Pavilion at Maitland Showground. Bookings are preferred via lornsurgery.com.au or 4933 2622, but Dr Richards said walk-ins would be accommodated.
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