By PETER HACKNEY
Bookings for the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine are now open to people aged 16-39 across a large swathe of Sydney, after those in the age group were given priority access to the jab in Sydney’s 12 local government “areas of concern”.
The move means people aged 16-39 living in the Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Penrith and Strathfield LGAs can make their appointments for the jab, with slots available from 9am tomorrow (Thursday, 19 August).
The development is part of a “vaccine blitz”, announced by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian yesterday, using 530,000 Pfizer vaccines secured by the federal government at the weekend.
The premier said she hoped to use the doses to vaccinate as many young people as possible over the next few weeks.
“We know that once you get your first dose, in two or three weeks’ time, the chance of you getting the virus and passing it on to others is substantially reduced,” she said yesterday.
The deputy secretary of NSW Health, Susan Pearce, said clinical evidence proved there was a significant reduction in Covid-19 transmission after vaccination.
“Covid-19 vaccination gives you around 90 per cent protection against hospitalisation and death from Covid-19 if you are infected,” Ms Pearce said.
“We’re doing everything we can to get doses into arms, and I’d like to thank our local health districts for their mammoth effort.
“We’re throwing absolutely everything we’ve got at [it].”
Most infections occurring at home
The news comes as it was revealed the vast majority of Covid-19 transmission in NSW were occurring within people’s homes.
According to NSW Health, 70 per cent of infections over the past two weeks that have been linked to a known case or cluster occurred in households.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that, in response, the NSW Government was seeking to urgently increase accommodation for people needing to isolate.
A health sector source, who was not authorised to speak on the issue, told the newspaper almost 1000 people last week were staying in one of the four current sites across the inner city.
The Herald reported that the government would open a fifth health hotel, joining several Meriton serviced apartment buildings suites already being used to house people who cannot safely isolate at home.
Transmission at work still a problem
NSW Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant noted on 26 July that, outside of households, the majority of Covid-19 transmission was occurring at workplaces, largely “in logistics and distribution, [among] critical workers … that support Sydney and NSW and beyond”. From there, many of these workers were unwittingly passing it on to others at home.
A Green Left article, republished by the Sentinel, stated that most of these essential workers live and work in South Western and Western Sydney. The region is also where the highest number of infections have been recorded.
Despite this, almost half of essential workers are still being put at risk of contracting the Delta variant at work, according to an Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) report.
The document, An Emergency for Essential Workers, is based on a survey undertaken between 27 July and 2 August of 849 AMWU members.
“NSW is now in a situation where the low-paid, often minimum-waged, workers carrying out the essential work that keeps the rest of the Australian economy functioning are risking their health due to the failures of employers and government agencies,” it noted.
Peter Hackney is the editor-in-chief of the Sydney Sentinel.