GP respiratory clinic reaches huge vaccination milestone

Jolyon Attwooll

28/04/2022 4:07:07 PM

Doctors and nurses at a Perth clinic have administered an extraordinary amount of doses since the COVID-19 vaccine rollout began.

Dr Karis White and Dr Mary Wyatt
Dr Karis White (left) and Dr Mary Wyatt outside the clinic where tens of thousands of people have been vaccinated.

A Western Australian GP-led respiratory clinic has reached a remarkable tally, administering a total of 50,000 COVID-19 vaccinations since the program began last March.
The Victoria Park Clinic in Perth hit the milestone last weekend, with the 50,000th vaccine dose administered by co-owner of the practice Dr Mary Wyatt in front of a local television crew.
One of the most prolific of all the vaccinators involved at the clinic has been GP in training Dr Karis White, who has carried out 8725 vaccinations since the first doses arrived in autumn 2021.
Did she set out to administer as many as possible?
‘Not at all,’ Dr White told newsGP.  ‘I just really enjoyed my job. Any time there were shifts available, I’d take them.
‘You hear the media reports about lots of anti-vaxxers. But it’s actually good to see that the majority of people aren’t that way inclined.’
‘I’ve liked that most people were very, very happy to be there.’
With the initial part of the vaccine rollout marked by supply issues, Dr White said she noticed the willingness of the community to be part of the program.
‘Particularly in the early days, when it was really hard to get hold of the vaccine unless you fitted the criteria, everyone was just very grateful to be there,’ she said.
Dr White also appreciated a feeling of camaraderie as health professionals pulled together as part of the most ambitious vaccination program ever carried out in the country.
‘I really have enjoyed the teamwork, the team that we work with is amazing.’
While Western Australia has seen COVID-19 become widespread in the community for the first time this year, the level of deaths and severe disease has stayed lower than in most other parts of the world – a fact not lost on Dr White.
‘I definitely feel like we’ve dodged a massive bullet,’ she said.
Dr Sean Stevens, co-owner of Victoria Park Clinic, said the experience had been a ‘roller-coaster ride’ and a privilege to be part of.
‘It is a credit to the whole team, we really have an amazing team that’s been able to adapt all of the changes that have happened along the way,’ he told newsGP.
‘We’ve had some really dedicated GPs and nurses.’
The total of 50,000 vaccinations includes doses received as part of a primary course, as well as booster doses.
Dr Stevens believes it may be one of the largest totals of any GP-led respiratory clinic (the Department of Health was unable to confirm when approached by newsGP) – albeit with plenty of fluctuations of demand on the way.
‘We’ve had periods where we were vaccinating 400 people a day. And then we had periods where [such as] during the AstraZeneca scare … numbers dropped right off, and the clinics were a quarter full,’ he said.
‘And then things picked up again. We got Pfizer, and we just couldn’t keep up.
‘And then you’ve had what all the other GPs would have seen as well with changes in recommendations and things pulled at short notice, and evidence as it has come out.’
The respiratory clinic was among those set up in April 2020 to help lead the primary healthcare response to the emerging pandemic. Dr Stevens said the team has had to be flexible in its approach.
‘We actually started with seeing and assessing people with COVID symptoms, that was our primary remit to begin with,’ he said.
‘But then when the vaccine started rolling out, we pivoted to the vaccine. And we did predominantly vaccines since March last year.
‘And now we’ve switched and are doing a little bit of vaccine and we’re [mainly] treating people with COVID.
‘We’ve done a lot of twists and turns over the last two years.’

Mary_Wyatt-article.jpgDr Mary Wyatt with vaccine dose number 50,000.

According to the latest DoH figures, a total of 28,443,740 vaccine doses have been administered through general practice sites, Commonwealth vaccination clinics and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.
A total of 6103 vaccination locations among those groups, according to the official statistics, makes an average of 4660 doses per site.
Which also means the Victoria Park Clinic has delivered more than 10 times the average amount.
As for where things are heading, Dr Stevens believes the extraordinary vaccination rate of 50,000 will not be seen again.
‘The demand for the vaccine has dropped off, so even with boosters and other things that are coming through, we see our role in vaccination being much less than what it has been and really shifting towards the treating of COVID patients,’ he said.
Even with that change in emphasis, Dr Stevens says the rollout is something GPs should reflect on with pride.
‘It’s a credit to every general practice,’ he said.
‘We’re just proud that we could play a large part in that role. Our job is a privilege to serve the community.
‘We’re stoked to be able to reach such a milestone and to have made such a difference in this pandemic.’
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COVID-19 GP respiratory clinic vaccination rollout Western Australia

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Dr Lucas Parry   29/04/2022 2:18:01 PM

What an out-of-touch and privileged topic for NewsGP to choose as headline (just below a "Nervalgesic" ad on my screen). So we have an inner-city clinic, in Ivory Tower WA, who have "pivoted" from what sounds like narrow but reasonably useful GP work to just administering vaccines to people who want them. “We’re just proud that we could play a large part”, and make “such a difference in this pandemic”; give me a break! And we're supposed to celebrate that an experienced GP and her registrar have spent months doing seemingly nothing but jabs (instead of supervising a nurse while doing GP-level work), be impressed that she wants to do more of these universally-acknowledged cushy shifts, and accept it's being counted as training time (or even extended skills!). "I definitely feel like we’ve dodged a massive bullet" is about right, in more ways than I could name, and I'm sure other regional/rural GPs know what I’m talking about as we perform the true “general” part of our practice.