ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has said it's unhelpful, inappropriate and unnecessary for Canberrans to try to skip the COVID-19 vaccine queue, in light of revelations a number of ineligible people recently got the jab.
A mystery text message circulated in Canberra over the long weekend, saying the ACT's vaccination hub at Garran Surge Centre had "an excess of Pfizer this weekend" and staff were "offering them to the general public".
It went on to advise people who were "keen to get jabbed" they were almost guaranteed a booking on the weekend and didn't need to meet the phase 1a or 1b criteria.
The text, which the ACT government said it did not endorse, was forwarded through federal bureau media and other circles, and some journalists went on to book into the Garran Surge Centre and get their first shot of the Pfizer vaccine.
Ms Stephen-Smith said on Tuesday morning it was "unfortunate" the text message had circulated, and she could assure Canberrans Pfizer vaccines were "not going to waste" at the surge centre.
Authorities were unclear on who had sent the text message.
"We have seen appointments that have been falling and clearly staff were being generous in their interpretation of who could access the surge centre for a Pfizer vaccination," the health minister said.
"It has been reinforced this morning that they really do need to ensure that people are eligible for a vaccination before they can get in."
The minister said there had been a drop off in appointments at the surge centre because staff were still getting through vaccinating essential workers.
She said the surge centre was yet to open up to people aged under 50 who had an underlying health condition and were now eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine, but the ACT government was working through a process this week to get them in soon.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommended earlier this month that people under 50 get the Pfizer vaccine, after concerns the AstraZeneca vaccine was linked to extremely rare blood clots in people under 50.
Ms Stephen-Smith said Canberrans who weren't eligible to get a vaccine shouldn't call the booking phone number that was provided in the text. The number should only be given out by ACT Health to people who are eligible.
"I would really strongly encourage people who are not eligible for vaccination under phase 1a or 1b, please don't call the line and try to skip the queue," she said.
"That's not helpful, it's not appropriate, and it's not necessary.
"I can assure people that vaccines are not going to waste at the Garran Surge Centre, so you're not helping by skipping the queue."
The minister said it had been reinforced to staff that they shouldn't be making vaccination bookings for people who weren't eligible so, if ineligible people did call the line, they should "just end up disappointed anyway".
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