Brendan Murphy says most GPs ‘incredibly happy’ with vaccine rollout

Paul Hayes

7/04/2021 8:20:40 PM

The DoH Secretary acknowledges ‘a couple of instances’ of GPs being upset receiving fewer doses, but said supply issues are to blame.

Professor Brendan Murphy
Professor Brendan Murphy believes Australia has ‘not been in a position where we need to do things in a hurry’ regarding its vaccine rollout. (Image: AAP)

The ABC’s Leigh Sales was blunt in her response to Department of Health (DoH) Secretary Professor Brendan Murphy’s suggestion on 7.30 this week that the slow start to Australia’s vaccine rollout is a matter of supply.
‘It’s more than that, because doctors are saying the organisation is hopeless, [and] state governments are saying they don’t know how much supply they will get and when,’ she said.
‘There’s no sense as to when Australia will reach a critical mass of people being vaccinated that would allow borders to open.
‘How can anyone objectively view this organisation as anything other than a dog’s breakfast?’
Professor Murphy was equally forthright in his response.
‘I completely reject that contention,’ he said.
‘The vast majority of GPs are incredibly happy with the rollout.
‘Sure, there have been a couple of instances where some GPs wanted more doses than they could be allocated because of the supply constraint. Sure, there have been some instances where the more than 1000 deliveries in the first week to GPs, some were not able to be completed.
‘But it is going well.’
GPs have previously been vocal with their frustrations at vaccine delays.
‘Some practices have had to cancel entire clinics because their vaccines didn’t arrive in time. This means staff are spending hours cancelling appointments – this takes time and resources,’ GP and practice owner Dr Maria Boulton told newsGP last week.
‘It’s like trying to organise a concert when you are not sure whether the performers will be there or when they will arrive.
‘It is important for GP clinics to have certainty over when their supplies will arrive so we can organise vaccination clinics, let patients know when they are on and organise the staff around them.’
RACGP President Dr Karen Price also told newsGP that her practice in Melbourne has not been immune from logistical issues.
‘What we ultimately need is complete predictability on supply,’ she said.
But despite the frustration, Professor Murphy pointed to the fact GPs have already administered 280,000 doses in the first two weeks of phase 1b of the rollout.
‘That’s a pretty impressive achievement, and the states have put 460,000 doses in arms.’
The DoH Secretary told Ms Sales that Australia’s success in combatting the disease and access to locally produced vaccines placed it in a unique position when approaching a vaccine rollout.
‘We didn’t have the need for emergency use authorisation and rapid approval processes that other countries have had to do to get access to vaccines earlier,’ he said.
‘Like other countries, we have been constrained by international supply, which is why the wonderful starting up of the local production of CSL is what is now accelerating our program which has really quadrupled over the last few weeks.
‘We have not been in a position where we need to do things in a hurry.’
Regardless, Professor Murphy remains confident in the Federal Government’s stated plan for all eligible Australians to receive at least one vaccine jab by October, with local production playing a significant role. 
‘We are still on track to hit our target of everyone getting a first dose, every adult getting a first dose, by the end of October,’ he said.
‘We will get that by increasing our vaccine supply. That is the only constraint at the moment.’
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