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Qudos Bank Arena vaccination hub to close as NSW transitions to COVID booster shots

One of Sydney’s major vaccination hubs closed on Sunday as the state moves its focus to the COVID booster shot rollout.

The Qudos Bank Arena vaccination centre at Sydney Olympic Park ceased operations after being a mainstay in the state’s vaccination success.

The arena, which would normally host major music acts, was converted into a vaccine hub where about 15,000 doses were administered each day.

It was a driving factor behind the high vaccination rates in Western Sydney, which was hit hard by the Delta outbreak this year.

Instead, the NSW government will now focus on smaller centres that will provide booster shots, including a new clinic in Granville, in Western Sydney, which opened today.

The centre has the capacity to administer 1,000 booster shots a day, with a surge capacity of 2,000 shots.

“This will be a very important tool as we move through the next 12 months and transition into the booster program,” Premier Dominic Perrottet said while visiting the centre.

The Granville Centre in Western Sydney will operate as a vaccination clinic for the next few months.(ABC News)

Last week, about 17,500 people in NSW received their COVID booster shots with about 90,000 people currently eligible for the third shot due to their health conditions.

The Health Minister said the aim was to give people options as to where they get their booster shots.

“We just aren’t sure what the preference will be from the community … whether they will prefer to stay with these large centres or be happy to transition across to GPs and pharmacists,” Brad Hazzard said.

“I think we will see a transition [but] we will have centres for a while.”

The Sydney Olympic Park vaccination hub, which was the first of its kind to open in Australia, will continue to operate for potentially several years, Mr Hazzard said.

an office space with table and chairs
The Granville Centre has the capacity to administer 1,000 booster shots a day.(ABC News)

NSW Health deputy secretary Susan Pearce said in coming days the state will hit the 90 per cent double vaccination milestone.

Currently, 89.7 per cent of people over the age of 16 in NSW are fully vaccinated and 93.9 per cent are partially vaccinated.

“[It will be] an amazing excitement, it’s beyond our wildest dreams that we got there and got there so soon,” Ms Pearce said.

In the 12-15-year-old age group, 80.1 per cent have had their first dose, and 68.6 per cent are fully vaccinated.

Kavita Varshney, an emergency doctor at Westmead Hospital said the high vaccination uptake had made a world of difference on the COVID ward.

“As of Friday there were only two COVID positive patients in hospital in western Sydney,” she said.

“If you still need to be vaccinated, do so today and if you are eligible for a booster shot, please do so as soon as possible.”

a woman talking into microphones
Emergency doctor Kavita Varshney said the last two months have been vastly different at Westmead Hospital.(ABC News)

Booster shots will be available to those who had their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine six months (or more) ago.

The Pfizer vaccine will be offered as the booster dose, regardless of the vaccine received for the first or second dose. 

Mr Hazzard said there were no supply constraints as the federal government had shored up enough booster doses for all the states.

“It’s there waiting for you,” he said.

“And if you haven’t received one dose, get with the strength.”

In the 24 hours to 8:00pm on Saturday, NSW recorded 244 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases from 70,276 tests.

A man in his 60s from Albury died at Box Hill Hospital in Victoria. He was not vaccinated.

There are 269 people being treated for COVID in hospitals and 52 in intensive care with 24 patients on ventilators.

The majority of the latest cases were from the Hunter New England region.