‘Absolutely no waste’: GPs reject unused Pfizer claim

Jolyon Attwooll

7/09/2021 4:45:24 PM

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer said this week that GPs ‘are not using their full amount’ – but general practices are reporting otherwise.

A healthcare worker holding up a syringe.
The number of general practices administering Pfizer in Queensland is expected to increase from around 340 up to 700 by the end of September. (Image: AAP)

Doctors are administering every dose of Pfizer allocated to them, RACGP Vice-President and Queensland Chair Dr Bruce Willett has said.
Dr Willett told ABC Brisbane on Tuesday that there is no Pfizer vaccine going to waste in general practices across the state.
‘At the moment … we can’t meet demand, there’s not enough Pfizer,’ he said. ‘We’re really looking forward to those increased supplies in the very near future.’
His words followed remarks from the state’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young, who said on Monday that GPs are ‘not using their full amount’ of doses.
‘They’re each getting around 300 doses per week of Pfizer vaccine that they can use with their patients and anyone who books in with their surgery,’ Dr Young told media at the state’s daily COVID-19 update.
‘So could people please come forward because GPs are not using their full amount that they are being allocated by the Commonwealth … I do want every single [one] of those 75,000 doses a week that go to GPs across the state to be utilised.’
But when asked on ABC Brisbane if Pfizer is going to waste in general practices, Dr Willett said the opposite was true.
‘Absolutely not,’ he said. ‘Most of the practices that have Pfizer – and that’s still a limited number – they have really considerable waiting lists.
‘I’m not sure how that message got through. [General] practices are independent businesses and we order a vaccine through the Commonwealth rather than the State Government, so my only thought is that story’s got a little bit lost in translation as the story’s come through from the Commonwealth to the state.’
There are currently around 340 general practices in Queensland approved to administer Pfizer, with that number expected to reach around 700 by the end of the month.
Dr Deborah Smith is a rural GP in Eidsvold, which lies inland about two hours west of Bundaberg, and works at a practice which is now delivering Pfizer. The vaccination rates in the area have been higher than across the state as a whole, boosted by the recent arrival of Pfizer.
She told newsGP that AstraZeneca has been available for some time but GPs at the clinic have had an anxious wait for Pfizer supply to arrive, particularly as around 30% of the community is Aboriginal.
After the first doses arrived in mid-August – having previously been deferred – Dr Smith said demand has remained strong. 
‘I’m very relieved,’ she told newsGP. ‘We were behind everyone else getting the Pfizer vaccine. We’ve been using everything we’ve been sent as we’ve been sent it.
‘I think we’re okay now. Provided next time we order some and it comes again, we’ll be fine.’
On Tuesday, Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath was also questioned about Dr Young’s comments about GPs using their full allocation. She told the ABC she was relying on a figure supplied by the Federal Government.
‘I’ve checked those figures again this morning. That’s exactly what we’ve got from the Commonwealth – that 80% supply is being used,’ Minister D’Ath said. 
‘There’s a range of reasons. I understand they may be holding on to some extra supply to give to other GPs to get more GPs online, or they may be holding on to contingency for second doses.  That’s the information we’ve had from the Commonwealth.’
Minister D’Ath said the Federal Government was ‘picking fights with the state’ over criticisms of its vaccine rollout, and said some supply previously earmarked for Queensland had been diverted to New South Wales where case numbers are highest.
Queensland currently has the second lowest vaccination rate in the country behind Western Australia. Recent figures released by the Department of Health (DoH) suggest the state had five of the 10 lowest second-dose rates in local government areas (LGA) across Australia.
These include Cherbourg, Yarrabah, Isaac, Central Highlands and Whitsunday.
Dr Willett said that as the vaccination rate goes up, the rollout in the state will increasingly need to target those who are vaccine hesitant and areas where medical services are harder to access.
‘It’s very important as a community we don’t leave anyone behind,’ he said.
The increasing number of general practices involved in administering Pfizer will help boost the rate, Dr Willett added, particularly as doses obtained through a swap deal with the UK are due to arrive.
‘We’re using all the vaccination we’ve got and we’re really looking forward to getting more,’ he said.
‘It really is looking very hopeful ... we’re promised in the next two weeks to a month that we will be awash with Pfizer.
‘I think all GPs are really looking forward to getting in and rolling up our sleeves and delivering that.’
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Dr Alan Graham MacKenzie   8/09/2021 8:03:07 AM

Lucky to get 300 doses every 3 weeks to be shared by 4 busy GP’s

Dr David Alan Wallace   8/09/2021 9:13:23 AM

It would be helpful if Dr Young would check the accuracy of her remarks before she slings off at GPs yet again. GPs are doing their jobs at least as well as she is doing hers.

Dr Daniel Thomas Byrne   8/09/2021 9:20:34 AM

If you have 300 delivered today you don’t give 300 today. Of course there is a lag between delivery compared to registering the dose on the AIR. It’s just logistics. Could Dr Young please calm down!

Dr Johanna Catharina Vorster   8/09/2021 2:08:30 PM

Pinjarra Doctors has not received any Pfizer vaccines yet . There are two practices in Pinjarra . The other practice has been receiving these vaccines and now our patients needs to book into the other practice .
Why could they ( ? ) not divided the available vaccines between the two practices ?
It is just logical to do so .

Dr Jacqueline Chapman   8/09/2021 9:28:48 PM

We have used every dose and been so efficient our local PHN have commented on how are we doing it. We have put in extra time and effort. Unfortunately bureaucrats with no frontline experience often make irrational and unsubstantiated comments. Maybe it’s why they become bureaucrats