The rollout of third COVID-19 vaccine option Moderna begins in Dubbo from next week, and residents aged 12 to 59 years of age will soon be able to access it from pharmacies.
Moderna comes with specific storage conditions, and the message to residents is - keep your appointments or advise as early as possible if you can't, to reduce the chance of wastage.
"From the date it's released from the factories in Sydney, to when we must administer there's only 30 days," Lisa Gibson of Orana Mall Pharmacy said. "So you have to be able to use up all those vaccines in that 30-day period.
"It makes it a little bit challenging because we have had people not turn up for appointments, because they've been going to other clinics and not letting us know."
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While the current AstraZeneca stocks in Dubbo have a shelf life until around Christmas, the Moderna vials once opened have a short window before they must be disposed.
"When you open the vial to when it needs to be disposed of, (the window) is six hours and you get 10 doses out of a vial," Ms Gibson said. "So we want to make sure we've definitely got 10 people coming in before we open up that vial, otherwise there's wastage.
"We'll be taking a waitlist once we get confirmation of delivery date, and then we'll book all of those in and do them in lots of 10."
1800 pharmacies across Australia will receive doses from next week, including Orana Mall Pharmacy which has been advised it will receive its stock by September 24th at the latest.
Another 1800 pharmacies will follow from next week, according to the Vaccine Operations Centre.
In that second stage is Terry White Pharmacy in Delroy Park, which is scheduled to receive doses between September 30 and October 3.
Pharmacist Kaail Bohm said the over 60s age group won't have access to Moderna immediately, with priority given to the 12 to 59 years age group.
"They still unfortunately have to wait, unless we can get them an exemption from their doctor saying that they need to have Moderna over AstraZeneca," Mr Bohm said.
"And that's going to be the case for the next couple of months, until we use up that AstraZeneca and we actually have good flow of Moderna. They're expecting that's going to be around December."
Once delivery dates are locked in for both pharmacies, they will open up bookings. Ms Gibson said the arrival of Moderna only strengthens the region's access to a COVID vaccine, and no one should be left waiting.
"If they want a vaccine all they have to do is get in touch with their local pharmacy or GP and if they haven't got any, they'll be able to point them in the right direction," she said.
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