26 September 2023

COVID audit finds healthy vaccine rollout

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A performance audit of NSW Health’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout has found its overall delivery of vaccination services to be effective and efficient.

In her report New South Wales COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Auditor-General Margaret Crawford said her audit focused on NSW Health’s contribution to the Australian Government led vaccine rollout in four Local Health Districts (LHDs) in the 2021 calendar year, in particular the administration of two doses of vaccine to people aged 16 and over.

“By 12 December 2021, NSW Health had administered two doses of vaccines to one third of eligible people in New South Wales aged 16 and over – contributing significantly to the achievement of the NSW Government vaccination target of 80 per cent fully vaccinated before 31 December 2021,” Ms Crawford said.

“Despite challenges such as uncertain supply and changes to clinical advice affecting vaccine eligibility, NSW Health’s overall delivery of vaccination services was effective and efficient,” she said.

“NSW Health implemented its own booking system after it identified that the Australian Government’s system would not manage bookings.”

Ms Crawford said there were problems with Health’s interim vaccine booking system, but these were fully resolved by September 2021.

She said vaccination levels in some vulnerable populations remained below the 95 per cent double dose target currently in place.

“Access to quality data to regularly measure vaccination rates in some vulnerable populations remains an ongoing challenge for the NSW and Australian Governments,” the Auditor-General said.

“As a result, NSW Health is unable to fully ensure it has delivered on its shared responsibility with the Australian Government to vaccinate vulnerable people.”

She said NSW Health managed challenges regarding the uncertain supply of vaccines from the Australian Government and filled gaps beyond its agreed responsibilities in the National Partnership on COVID-19 Response.

Ms Crawford said that during the Delta outbreak of the pandemic, Health sought to achieve the best possible public health outcome from limited vaccine supply by opening up additional vaccination clinics in highly affected areas and redistributing vaccine supplies from areas with fewer cases to highly affected local government areas in south west Sydney.

She made two recommendations to NSW Health, to complete a comprehensive review of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and incorporate lessons from the review into pandemic response plans.

The Auditor-General’s 49-page Report can be accessed at this PS News link.

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