After lobbying the State Government for vaccine hubs for the Adelaide Hills and South Coast, Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has discovered residents over the age of 50 seeking the jab are currently being turned away.
Federal Member for Mayo Rebekha Sharkie has met with Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt to urgently advocate for all residents in Mayo to be able to access the vaccine - not just residents under the age of 50.
"The decision to exclude anyone over 50 from accessing the COVID jab at the State Government operated vaccination hubs at Mount Barker and Victor Harbor is nonsensical. I met with Minister Greg Hunt to ask for this oversight to be fixed urgently," Ms Sharkie said.
Ms Sharkie said many Mayo residents had been turned away from the vaccination hubs because they were only vaccinating with the Pfizer vaccine and only administering that vaccine to residents under 50.
"With many local GP clinics prioritising their existing patients, many older residents are missing out if their local GP is not part of the Federal GP program," she said.
"My office is being inundated with calls from people who can't get their first dose despite weeks or months of trying. One resident in her 90s was told to drive to Murray Bridge or miss out."
Ms Sharkie has been told many "shocking stories" from older residents who have been turned away.
"Given that older Australians are repeatedly told that they are at the greatest risk should they contract COVID-19, surely the hubs should be available to them and they should be at the front of the queue," she said.
"We know there is a serious COVID-19 outbreak in Victoria and many of our oldest, most vulnerable residents who have the poorest access to medical assistance have not even received their first dose of the vaccine and they are deeply concerned.
"Mayo vaccine hubs should offer BOTH the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca, to ensure nobody gets turned away - This is what I advocated to the Minister. Let's hope that common sense prevails and the Federal and State Governments work together to fix this matter urgently."
There have also been reports of Pfizer vaccines being thrown away because no one over 50 can have it.
A spokesperson for the Southern Fleurieu Health Service said "any concerns regarding vaccinations would be addressed".
The electorate of Mayo has the oldest demographic in South Australia, with 60 percent of residents of the South Coast aged over 50. A vaccination hub is located at the Southern Fleurieu Health Service (South Coast District Hospital) in Victor Harbor.
The State Government will invest more than $86 million in the upcoming State Budget to fast track the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to more South Australians.
South Australia has opened up vaccinations to all 40-49 year olds, while also extending access to the Pfizer vaccine to all disability workers.