Majority of 500,000 Pfizer doses secured by Australia to go to general practice

Anastasia Tsirtsakis

31/08/2021 4:10:58 PM

The influx of doses will bring the onboarding of hundreds of practices due to start administering the vaccine forward to 13 September.

Pfizer vials
Practices coming on board to deliver Pfizer from 13 September will be weighted towards regional, rural and remote areas. (Image: AAP)

General practices that were due to start administering Pfizer on 20 September will now be putting needles in arms from 13 September.
Those practices will have until midnight Wednesday 1 September to submit their vaccine orders through their Primary Health Network.
The acceleration of the program has been made possible thanks to a new ‘dose-swap’ deal with Singapore, which will see 500,000 doses of Pfizer arrive in Australia in coming days and be ready for distribution from next week following batch-testing by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
Speaking on Tuesday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the deal will be a considerable ‘boost’ to vaccination efforts in September, ensuring strong uptake continues beyond August.
‘That means there are 500,000 doses extra that will happen in September that otherwise would have had to wait for several months from now, accelerating our vaccination program at this critical time as we walk towards those 70% and 80% targets,’ he said.
The announcement comes as 60% of Australia’s population is under lockdown.
Dr Karen Price welcomed the Government’s announcement, saying the Pfizer supply will help to ease some challenges of the rollout.
‘It means that practices that were meant to start delivering Pfizer vaccines on 20 September will now start doing so a week earlier on 13 September, alongside those practices already scheduled to start on this date,’ she said.
‘These practices will initially receive 150 doses before building up to 300 doses per week. They will have until midnight Wednesday [1 September] to submit their vaccine orders.’
Prime Minister Morrison said the doses will be  distributed by primary care and state and territory vaccination sites on an ‘equal population basis’.
The RACGP understands, however, that the majority of the 1500 practices coming on board from 13 September to deliver Pfizer will be in regional, rural and remote parts of the country.
The move comes almost a month after the Department of Health (DoH) released detailed data that revealed some regional parts of Australia are among areas with the lowest vaccination rates, with some regional locations yet to have access to Pfizer.
‘I’m pleased to report that the practices coming on board on 13 September will be weighted towards regional, rural and remote areas,’ Dr Price said.
‘The college has said from day one that we must do everything possible to improve vaccine accessibility outside of major cities.’
While general practices due to start administering Pfizer on 20 September will start a week earlier, the commencement date for those due to join on 27 September and 4 October will remain the same.
Prime Minister Morrison said the Pfizer deal will significantly help the vaccination program, as 16–29-year-olds start to come through, followed by 12–15-year-olds from 15 September.
‘This will greatly assist with both of those efforts,’ he said.
‘We need to vaccinate the whole country and we need for those doses to go from one end of the country to the other and for them to be taken up.’
Dr Price said the new timeline will ensure momentum continues to build in the coming weeks and months, giving communities across Australia more vaccination options.
‘With more practices coming on board to deliver the Pfizer vaccines, I am confident that the rollout will gain momentum,’ she said.
‘This will help protect not only individual patients, but the broader community.’
As part of the deal, Australia will send an equal number of doses back to Singapore in December. It comes just days after Singapore reached a milestone of vaccinating 80% of its population.
‘As Singapore has made good progress in our national vaccination programme and possesses sufficient supplies to meet our immediate needs, we will provide around 500,000 doses of our existing stocks of Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA-based vaccine for Covid-19 to Australia,’ Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.
‘This will help Australia accelerate its vaccination programme amidst its current increase in cases caused by the Delta variant.’
Up to 29 August, more than 19 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered, more than 10.3 million of which have been delivered by primary care.
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