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‘I’ve tried 200 times to call’

Published: in Australian News by .

A surge in COVID-19 vaccine demand has forced workers to turn people away from a Melbourne vaccination hub and overloaded a dedicated phone line.

A surge in COVID-19 vaccine demand has forced workers to turn people away from a Melbourne vaccination hub and overloaded a dedicated phone line.

Scores of people who queued in near-freezing temperatures at the walk-in line at the Royal Exhibition Centre in Melbourne on Sunday morning were turned away.

Video taken from outside the centre showed a female medical worker stepping outside to inform those waiting there were no Pfizer vaccines available for walk-ins.

"Please stop yelling at me," she can be heard saying.

"It's not fair. I'm doing my best."

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A health worker urges calm outside the Royal Exhibition Centre in Melbourne in Victoria.

After apologising for a lack of jabs, the woman was hit with a barrage of questions before walking back inside.

"I've been here in the cold for an hour waiting and now they've come out and said there is no Pfizer for walk-ins," one woman who had been queuing told 9News.

"You can't get through on the phones, what are we supposed to do?

"I'm looking after my mum who's not well. She's really worried."

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The federal and state governments have urged Victorians to get vaccinated as the state battles a new outbreak.

One of the many queuers said they had been at the centre for three consecutive days attempting to get vaccinated.

Another said they had tried to call the Victoria Health vaccination line hundreds of times without success.

"I've tried 200 times to call the line and I can't get through," the man said.

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"The ineptitude is just staggering."

A number of people were able to receive the Pfizer jab in Geelong, some making the trip down from Melbourne.

Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack urged Victorians to remain calm.

"It's not a race," Mr McCormack told reporters today.

"We don't want to see panic. We want people to be alert and not alarmed."

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is in New Zealand meeting with NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern echoed Mr McCormack's sentiment.

"We will continue to support Victoria, to get Victoria open and do everything we can to ensure Victoria does not close itself again," Mr Morrison said via video.

Acting Victorian Premier James Merlino said the Commonwealth vaccination program had been delayed.

"The reality is, outside of Howard Springs, there is no alternative quarantine facility outside of hotel quarantine," Mr Merlino told reporters on Sunday.

He said this made further COVID breaches inevitable. Leading epidemiologist Mary-Louise McLaws agreed.

"Hotels are built like your home. They're not built as proxy hospitals," she told 9News.

"Their airflow change isn't anyway near 10 full changes with fresh air every hour per person."

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Currently, there's no online booking system for those seeking a jab, meaning all appointments must be booked over the phone. Some people told 9News they would not be returning tomorrow.

Health Minister Greg Hunt was able to receive his second AstraZeneca jab on Sunday.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley told people not to give up trying to get through to the vaccination booking line.

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He reminded people they could also contact their GP about booking, with more due to join the vaccination program.

Source: 9News

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