Canberra’s coronavirus outbreak has grown to 95, with 12 new cases as the ACT warns it doesn’t have enough Pfizer vaccines to cover all under-40s.
Of the new cases reported on Friday, 11 were linked to existing infections.
Children and younger adults make up the bulk of the territory’s infections with exposure sites spread across schools, child care centres, pubs, clubs and public transport.
The federal government is expanding Pfizer access to everyone aged between 16 and 39 from next month in a bid to stop young people spreading the Delta variant.
While ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith supports this, she is also a little frustrated about Canberra not getting a heads-up.
In the ACT, people in their 30s can already make a booking for Pfizer. From next month, GPs will be able to dole it out to all aged 16 and over.
But the ACT’s vaccine clinics are booked out until mid-October.
“Until we have more clarity about what the supply from the Commonwealth is going to look like into September and October, it’s very hard for us to open up new appointments and to extend that eligibility for our ACT government clinics,” Ms Stephen-Smith told ABC radio.
Younger adults can also talk to a doctor about getting an AstraZeneca vaccine, supplied across the bulk of the ACT’s general practices.
One third of eligible Canberrans are fully immunised and almost 60 per cent have had their first dose.
Children make up 43 per cent of the ACT’s first outbreak in 13 months, while 46 per cent of infections are in people aged between 18 and 44.
Pfizer has already been opened up to 12 to 15 year-olds who are Indigenous or with underlying medical conditions and compromised immune systems.
A wider rollout for children is expected once it receives the final tick from Australia’s expert immunisation panel.
Meanwhile, ACT health officials want retired nurses or anyone with nursing training to help replace staff caught up in the outbreak.
More than 600 healthcare workers across Canberra Health Services and Calvary Public Hospital at Bruce had been isolated or quarantined.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr earlier said it was impossible to “seal Canberra up in a bubble and have it operate as if there is no Delta variant spreading around Australia”.
Despite the outbreak, federal parliament is returning for the last two weeks of August with many politicians set to appear remotely.