Wagga pharmacies are gearing up to begin administering the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, with doses expected to arrive by the end of next week.
Southcity Pharmacy opened up booking for the vaccine on Tuesday evening, and has already had days book out.
"We have seen high demand," owner and pharmacist Luke Van der Rijt said. "We opened up bookings last night and we've had a couple of days book out already."
He said demand is so high because of the vaccines approval for use in groups that may have struggled to secure a vaccine previously.
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"The demand is really high because this [vaccine] can go to under-18s and it is also approved in pregnant people as well," he said.
Kooringal Pharmacy will also be offering the Moderna jab. Owner and pharmacist Sandra Skaff said interest is similarly high among their patients.
The pharmacy has already been fielding calls from parents eager to get their high school children protected as soon as possible.
"It has certainly piqued interest because the Moderna vaccine is indicated for patients 12 years and up, and since the federal government and state government are keen on getting students over 12 vaccinated we've had quite a few parents interested in the jab," she said.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (Atagi) has recommended Moderna for everyone 12 years and older, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has approved of the vaccine for those aged 12 to 59.
Doses have not yet arrived in Wagga, with pharmacies across the state divided into two tranches for the rollout. The first tranche are in high-priority areas and received doses this week while the second tranche, in areas like Wagga, are expecting an arrival by the end of next week.
"We don't have doses yet, pharmacies are getting doses progressively and we have been advised we'll get them late next week or the following Monday," Mr Van Der Rijt said. "Like with the AstraZeneca, if doses come early we'll start offering vaccinations as soon as we have them."
Ms Skaff said at Kooringal they have not yet started taking bookings, preferring to wait until the doses are on their shelves.
"We're expecting them next week but we're not sure," she said. "We're not making appointments for Moderna yet because I would hate to make an appointment and have patients show up if we have no stock."
She said the pharmacy will advertise as soon as appointments become available.
The pharmacists are hopeful the vaccine's arrival will bolster their ability to administer doses.
"We'll have a few busy weeks ahead and we're anticipating we will need to roster extra staff on for some weeks but we have the capacity and the ability to deal with it," Mr Van der Rijt said.
Latest vaccine rates for the region show uptake has been strong and the Riverina is heading towards more than 70 per cent full vaccination.
As of Sunday, 72.1 per cent of Riverina residents over 15 had had at least one dose of a COVID vaccine, while 44.7 per cent has been double-dosed. The region ranks 15 out of 28 geographic regions in the state, down one place from last week.
Those who book in for Moderna can expect to be fully vaccinated four to six weeks later in line with health recommendations for the vaccine.
The pharmacists have also welcomed the ability to store the vaccine doses more easily and for longer than Pfizer which requires minus 70 degrees conditions.
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