Incensed Hunter residents and MPs have slammed the NSW government for cancelling vaccine appointments in the region to give doses to Sydney school students.
In a bureaucratic bungle that has caused widespread outrage and despair, people with health conditions and bookings for second shots received messages from NSW Health stating that their appointments for Pfizer jabs at the Belmont mass vaccination hub had been cancelled.
In a statement released on Sunday, NSW Health stated that "anyone who has had their first dose already or those in priority groups 1a or 1b will not have their bookings rescheduled".
Affected residents in those categories said that statement was false because their bookings had been cancelled.
These residents are now in limbo, wondering how the bureaucracy will clean up this mess.
Cathy Olds, of Merewether, had her two Pfizer bookings at the Belmont hub cancelled on Saturday.
"I don't think the government can put a positive spin on this story. It's just a debacle," said Ms Olds, a diabetic.
"You're relying now on what Hunter Health can do for you to try and get you another booking. Whether or not they can get you a booking when your original one was, or whether you're going to be waiting another two months. It's just stressful."
Swansea MP Yasmin Catley said it had been "a massive failure of the health bureaucracy".
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Ms Catley woke up on Sunday to "a barrage of emails, text messages and phone calls from people saying, 'What are we going to do? Our appointments have been cancelled'."
"People are completely outraged and filthy about it. When there is a public health crisis, taking resources from one area and moving them to another is very difficult to justify and difficult to stomach," she said.
Hunter New England Health apologised on Sunday to priority groups and those waiting for second shots whose bookings were "unintentionally" cancelled.
"We wish to assure them that their appointments will be rebooked," the statement said, without stating that the same times would be kept.
"We acknowledge that the filtering system used to identify those who would need to be rescheduled was not perfect."
Others would receive a priority code within a week for rebooking "when more supplies become available".
Central Coast case among Sunday's NSW numbers
Meanwhile, a healthcare worker at the Central Coast Cancer Centre at Gosford Hospital was among the 239 new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 announced on Sunday.
"The staff member, a household contact of a case linked to south western Sydney, is in isolation," a Central Coast Health statement said.
"The fully vaccinated staff member who worked at the Centre on July 28 wore full personal protective equipment and did not have any symptoms."
The staff member got tested and isolated immediately upon learning their household contact had a potential exposure, which was later confirmed as COVID-19.
"All close contacts from the Central Coast Cancer Centre have been contacted and are in isolation. They have all been tested for COVID-19 and have all returned negative results."
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