Vaccine shortages put children at risk, says MP

MP takes jab at child vaccine rollout

The next phase of the vaccine rollout started today as children aged between five and 11 became eligible for a paediatric version of the jab.

There has been criticism of the State Government's handing of the rollout though as reports of dose shortages circulated.

According to Member for Frome Geoff Brock, the Government has not taken into account the supplies needed to vaccinate the state's children.

"Despite announcing on Monday morning that our estimated 148,253 children aged five to 11 were eligible to have their first doses of COVID-19 vaccine before they returned to school at the end of the month, the reality is that, according to SA Health, there is only enough paediatric vaccine available right now to immunise half of this number," he said.

"We are planning to send our kids back to school with only half of them having the advantage of their first vaccination against this insidious pandemic.

"This is another example of our government, which is, by the way, currently on holiday until May, not planning ahead."

He said the pressure on the health system with front line workers contracting the virus has forced the closure of some clinics with pharmacies having to shoulder the burden.

"It's all very well to ask the community, both young and old, to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated, but if there is no vaccine available then we are failing in our duty of care as a government to look after South Australians," he said.

Government officials have since hit back, saying there are no vaccine shortages and encouraging parents to keep looking around for vaccination appointments.

Deputy Premier Dan van Holst Pellekaan said there are plenty of vaccines available with more on the way.

"Another 140k doses will arrive before for the end of January, and appointments for five to 11 year olds can be made in Port Pirie, Port Augusta and many other regional locations," he said.

"We encourage parents to keep an eye on the SA Health website as more appointments become available in the coming days and weeks."

SA Health said vaccines would be available for children between five and 11 at the Port Pirie Vaccination Clinic from 12 January.

"With parents and their children getting ready to go back to school, it's now more important than ever for young South Australians to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated," they said.

"It is great to see more than 340 children booked in for a COVID-19 vaccine at our vaccination clinics across the region.

"We encourage parents to keep an eye on the SA Health website as more appointments become available in the coming days and weeks."

Premier Steven Marshall said there is not yet a final decision on what will be happening with the start of the upcoming school year, but it should be announced by Friday.

He did note that the first week will be a "disrupted start", however.

Help for businesses

Mr Brock also called on the State Government to offer more aid to regional businesses struggling because of the pandemic.

"Our business owners' mental health is suffering as they try to navigate their way through the restrictions placed upon them, and any extra financial assistance to regional businesses may help to alleviate this," he said.

"This is a very trying time for businesses all over the State, and I am sure the financial assistance will be welcomed by those businesses eligible to receive it.

"But I have written to the Premier advocating for our regional areas, which are also being hit hard by the restrictions."

He proposed the State Government should do a second round of the Great State Voucher scheme which injected over $90 million into the state's tourism industry.

"But this time with a separate allocation specific to the State's regional areas," he said.

"At all times, both the metropolitan suburbs and regions were competing against each other, which made it more difficult for regional businesses to be advantaged by the scheme."