GPs’ AstraZeneca supply to be increased immediately

Anastasia Tsirtsakis

5/05/2021 2:42:32 PM

Practices will now receive an additional 150–200 doses each week.

Delivery of AstraZeneca boxes
The increase in vaccine supply to general practice is part of the recalibration of Australia’s vaccine program. (Image: AAP)

After weeks of GPs calling for their weekly vaccine allocation to be increased, the Federal Government has confirmed that supply of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine will be scaled up for general practices as of their next delivery.  
A letter sent to GPs on Wednesday, signed by the Department of Health’s (DoH) First Assistant Secretary for the COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Dr Lucas de Toca, states that practices currently receiving 50 doses per week will now be allocated 150, while those receiving 100 doses will now receive 200.
‘This will come into effect immediately for any orders that were placed last week (ordering window ending 30 April 2021 for delivery in the week ending 14 May 2021) or orders that have been placed this week (ordering window ending 7 May 2021 for delivery in the week ending 21 May 2021),’ the letter states.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price said the news is a positive step forward.
‘This is fantastic news because there are many general practices across Australia crying out for more COVID-19 vaccine doses,’ she said.
‘This increased dose allocation means that those practices with the capacity to do so can ramp up their rollout operations and get more jabs in arms with less delay.
‘It recognises the important role of general practice in the vaccine rollout and the fact that general practice already acts as a ready-made mass vaccination program.’
The move is part of the recalibration of Australia’s vaccine program that was announced following a National Cabinet meeting on 22 April, which saw the eligibility date for people aged 50–70 brought forward, starting 3 May.
Aside from a few hundred practices that have been receiving 400 doses per week, the majority of GP clinics have been receiving deliveries of either 50 or 100 doses, despite many practices having increased their capacity by reworking their floor space and recruiting additional staff.
Dr Maria Boulton, member of RACGP Expert Committee – Funding and Health System Reform (REC–FHSR), is among the GPs who have been calling on the Government to upscale supply.
Her Brisbane practice has been receiving 50 doses per week and has had every clinic appointment filled since phase 1b commenced on 22 March.
‘We were allocated 50 doses a week, like most of the GP clinics, [but] we could be doing 20 times that,’ Dr Boulton told newsGP.
‘We have more than 15,000 patients in our books [and so] we continue to request more doses.’
Dr de Toca acknowledged that the majority of practices have requested an increase in vaccine supply, but defended the cap on allocations.
‘It has been necessary in these early stages of the program to cap the allocation of vaccines being provided to manage vaccine stock while also ensuring that as many people as possible in phase 1b can access the vaccine from their own doctor,’ he wrote in the letter.
‘This has meant that for many general practices, the allocation of doses was less than what you indicated you could do.’
Dr Price said part of the increased availability stems from states and territories re-diverting their AstraZeneca allocations to general practice amid enhanced local production.
‘All of this highlights that the RACGP’s advocacy is paying dividends and that governments are listening to general practice,’ she said.
‘We are doing a lot of the heavy lifting to get as many people vaccinated as soon as possible, so we need all the support we can get. 
‘As President, I am proud to represent such dedicated clinicians who serve their communities and step up again and again to get the job done.’
Dr Price did acknowledge, however, that the announcement is not ‘a perfect panacea’.
‘Many general practices have had a challenging COVID-19 vaccine rollout experience so far and I want that to change,’ she said.
‘The RACGP will continue to advocate for general practices that have faced significant challenges during the vaccine rollout, as well as the patients they treat.’
Since phase 1b commenced, more than 4300 general practices have joined the vaccine rollout and administered more than 1.2 million vaccinations, which is more than half of all COVID vaccinations to date.
‘This is an amazing achievement in such a short period of time and a true reflection of the capacity of the sector,’ Dr de Toca wrote.
‘General practices remain an integral partner in the delivery of Australia’s national COVID-19 vaccination program.
‘Following the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s advice about the use of AstraZeneca it has been general practices that have led the successful rollout of the phase 1b through their ongoing support and encouragement for their local communities to be vaccinated.
‘Again, thank you for your efforts and I appreciate your patience as we continue to work through the complex logistics for this program.’
Practices will not be required to amend their vaccine order as part of the upscaling. And those that did not request an increase in vaccine allocations will not be required to place an order every week.
‘If you have already placed your order, the Vaccine Operations Centre will automatically update it. If you have not yet placed an order and are going to do so this week, you will note that your allocation on CVAS has been increased,’ the letter states.
‘Please remember that, as per usual, all orders must be placed by midnight on Fridays.’
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A.Prof John William Kramer, OAM   6/05/2021 6:03:33 PM

I have had zero supplies for 3 weeks(was getting 100 per week before that).
Does this mean that I will get none, because "double nothing is still nothing!"?

Dr Meredith Jane Webb   8/05/2021 5:01:07 PM

We need another round of applications from practices not currently approved vaccinators! Practices that did not apply the first time, or were not approved, still do not vaccinate. We do all the other vaccinations, including Influenza, so why cannot ALL practices now participate in COVID vaccination. There is currently no process to apply to commence vaccinations. We do not need new expensive Vax Clinics: we need more GP clinics doing vaccinations! I applaud an increase in supply to preexisting vaccination centres, but more approved locations as well is essential.

Dr Peter Kenny   23/05/2021 9:25:11 AM

Just put in this week's request and found my allocation has been increased from 200 to 300. We initially were a week 1 practice on 100/week.