For Cessnock's Clint Ekert, getting the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine was a simple choice.
"I had to protect my family and do my part to help the community and move toward getting out of lockdown," the 33-year-old said.
Mr Ekert was the first person to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at Cessnock Plaza Pharmacy, which joined the vaccine rollout on August 17.
"I spoke with my GP about the AZ vaccine and he filled me in on the research he had done into the side effects and we agreed it was a better option to be vaccinated," he said.
"We had four family members done the same day and all had minimal side effects, and I am excited to get my second jab in a couple of weeks' time."
The AstraZeneca vaccine is now available at many GP clinics and pharmacies across Cessnock City.
While Pfizer remains the preferred vaccine for people under 60, since the outbreak of the Delta strain the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has advised that people aged 18-59 years of age can choose to receive the AZ following an assessment of suitability by a qualified health professional and with verbal or written consent.
In people 60 years and over, ATAGI continue to advise that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks.
As reported earlier this week, Cessnock's vaccine rates remain below the national average with 22.4 percent of the population fully vaccinated - which has been attributed to the lack of access to the Pfizer vaccine.
Cessnock MP Clayton Barr said the Premier's daily calls for people to get vaccinated were "tone deaf".
"We want to get vaccinated but we can't, because the premier is not providing access," Mr Barr said.
"We still have front-line workers waiting to have access - but they can't get vaccinated because we don't have access to the recommended Pfizer.
"The government announcement for compulsory vaccinations for large numbers in our workforce, like teachers, spilled from the mouth of the Premier without a plan.
"She has no plan for getting Pfizer to the younger teachers in the Hunter region. She has no plan for teachers that for medical reasons can't have the jab. She has no plans for teachers that might choose to not get the jab."
Mr Barr - who has had one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine - said he encouraged anyone who wants to get the AZ to do so "as soon as you can".
Check your eligibility at covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au.
- Australian Community Media, the publisher of the Advertiser, is running a national campaign called VAXTHENATION to encourage those eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine to do so as soon as possible to help protect our standard of health, lift our quality of living, and boost our economy. Read more here.