Illawarra pharmacists hope to see a significant uptake of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine following the announcement that it will become more widely available to adults in the lockdown area.
Earlier this week, Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced that from Wednesday participating pharmacies would be able to take bookings from anyone aged over 18 who wished to have that shot and from Friday, bookings would open to all adults at NSW Health's vaccination hubs.
Prior to Wednesday, adults aged under 40 had to visit a GP if they wanted the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Pharmacist Asim Iqbal, proprietor of Wollongong's Convenient Chemist, said his business was awaiting stock of the AstraZeneca vaccine and would be able to administer it from August 16.
Mr Iqbal said he had received numerous enquiries about the vaccine and making bookings since this week's announcement.
The AstraZeneca vaccine's reputation had "copped a few hits" recently, he said, but pharmacists would ensure they had informed consent before giving the jab and monitor for any potential adverse effects.
He said most people realised that vaccination was the only way to get the community out of the cycle of outbreaks and lockdowns.
"Time will tell, I'm hoping the uptake will be strong," Mr Iqbal said.
Kiama Pharmacy's Sean Kelly said that while the pressure was not so keenly felt in that area, they too had been fielding several enquiries each day.
That pharmacy will also begin administering the AstraZeneca vaccine from mid-August.
The NSW government has highlighted vaccination as a critical component of its strategy to move the Greater Sydney area out of lockdown.
The Premier again made a plea that anyone who was able to get vaccinated, do so.
"Our state's been incredibly successful in dealing with every other strain of COVID, but Delta is different," Ms Berejiklian said.
"But the one positive that we do have, is that the vaccine is working.
"People with the vaccine are staying out of hospital, they're spreading it less than others, and we know it's an important protection."
Chief health officer Dr Kerry Chant said there was some urgency in getting vaccinated as soon as possible, because the protection offered by the vaccine took a few weeks to take effect.
The federal government added pharmacies to the vaccine rollout strategy last week, a move welcomed by those in the profession having pushed for it for some time.
"Seeing that your local pharmacist is now offering vaccinations will normalise the vaccine itself and will help combat both hesitancy and complacency," Pharmaceutical Society of Australia president, Associate Professor Chris Freeman said.
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