No Moderna access for general practice in 2021

Anastasia Tsirtsakis

12/08/2021 1:46:21 PM

Ten million doses of the mRNA vaccine will be prioritised for pharmacies and workplace vaccination programs, the Department of Health has said.

Vials of Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine.
Moderna will not be offered by general practices this year, with the focus on transitioning to deliver more Pfizer. (Image: AAP)

Despite there being no obvious barriers to general practices administering Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine, GPs will not be receiving doses of Australia’s third available vaccine candidate this year.
‘Planning is underway for the 10 million Moderna vaccine doses that will be delivered in 2021 to be rolled out through approved pharmacies and through workplace vaccination,’ a Department of Health (DoH) spokesperson told newsGP.
‘In 2021, general practices will be delivering the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.’
The revelation comes after it was announced on Monday that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) had provisionally approved Moderna for use in Australia in those aged 18 and over.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price, who met with the Head of the National COVID Vaccine Taskforce Lieutenant General JJ Frewen on Thursday, said the decision to distribute the mRNA vaccine through pharmacy makes sense when it comes to streamlining the rollout.
‘The idea is that it’s nice and streamlined from a signalling point of view that Moderna’s at pharmacies and Pfizer’s at general practice,’ she told newsGP.
‘It helps with distribution, it helps the logistics, and it helps with messaging.
‘Eventually it may change, but at this foreseeable time – as we’re onboarding and really maturing the vaccination rollout – it’s really important to get that early messaging right.’
The Federal Government secured a contract for 25 million doses of Moderna in May, and earlier this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the first 10 million are expected to arrive before the end of the year.
‘The first one million doses [are] on track to arrive next month,’ he said. ‘Then we will have three million in October, three million in November and three million in December.’
During a COVID-19 webinar for general practice on Thursday, the DoH’s First Assistant Secretary for the COVID-19 Primary Care Response, Dr Lucas de Toca, reiterated that Moderna will be rolled out through the community pharmacy program.
When it comes to general practice, he said the DoH is ‘aware and very pleased’ by the demand to join the rollout of Pfizer and that the focus is now on ramping up onboarding of clinics.
‘More than 1500 general practices are … doing Pfizer vaccines across the country, with another 280 joining on next week,’ Dr de Toca said.
‘We expect that the next tranches will commence the transition from mid-September so that by early October all general practices that are in the program have been given the option to vaccinate with Pfizer.’
Dr Price said she looks forward to GPs increasingly stepping up in the rollout of Pfizer, and that any clarity around timelines is welcome.
‘We’ve been feeding back that that certainty is needed, and the Department has listened and is working very hard on that,’ she said. ‘So I’m hopeful that will come through.’
Dr de Toca did say, however, that while efforts are being made to get doses out to general practices as quickly as possible, ongoing supply issues remain.
‘We absolutely hear that … the sooner that you have a date for when you can commence, the better, and we’re committed to be able to do that as quickly as we can,’ he said.
‘We don’t tell any practice when they can commence and how many doses they can get until we are absolutely certain that we can maintain that supply, so that we can give you and your patients certainty that that supply may increase or may remain the same, but it will not drop.
‘[That] sometimes means it’s a bit later than we would like in order to communicate with you. But there will be a lot of communication coming out next week, and we’ll go through that as quickly as possible so that everyone is doing mRNA on top of adenovirus vaccines by October.’
Moderna, which requires two doses administered four weeks apart, is under review by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), which will develop clinical guidance ahead of the September rollout.
Dr de Toca said ATAGI is also assessing available evidence for use of the mRNA vaccine in younger cohorts aged 12–17.
‘We expect that they will come to a conclusion on that in the next few weeks,’ he said.
Meanwhile, the remaining 15 million doses of Moderna secured by the Government will be an updated variant booster and are anticipated to arrive in 2022.
Dr Price said while it has yet to be confirmed, the prospect of booster programs means general practices could be offering other vaccines beyond Pfizer and AstraZeneca in the future.
‘That’s certainly a place where we might eventually land,’ she said.
‘The whole system has to be recalibrated all the time, depending on what’s coming in our shores, both from a viral point of view from variants and from a vaccination point of view.
‘But it’s just too complex to be really going down that path right now. At this stage, in this important part of getting things established and getting clarity and maturity around the messages and the supply chains and so forth, keeping it this way helps reduce the complexity in an already complex environment.’
To date, more than 14.2 million COVID vaccine doses have been administered across Australia. More than half have been delivered by primary care, with more than 300,000 doses administered the past two days, a record since the rollout commenced.
Dr Price said it is important to remember that all healthcare professionals involved in the rollout are united and working towards the same goal.
‘This is a public health rollout; there’s no other ifs, ands, or buts,’ she said.
‘We are a part of the delivery arm of that and we should be working together both as health professionals in the community and as a community with the Australian people that we see every day.
‘We’ve got to be delivering that same message and it’s vital that we do it because it is a public health crisis first, middle and last.’
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Dr Angela Catanzariti   13/08/2021 6:21:48 AM

Again general practice is left out of the vaccine equation! Really! Not only were GPs not offered Pfizer in March, we now have to miss out on Moderna as well. Where is the RACGP support of it's members? Not good enough!

Dr James Courts   13/08/2021 6:56:13 AM

A further slow clap for the RACGP.

‘The idea is that it’s nice and streamlined from a signalling point of view that Moderna’s at pharmacies and Pfizer’s at general practice,’ she told newsGP"

That's not the idea or the reason and you know it.

Dr Emad Mikhael Hanna   13/08/2021 8:04:42 AM

why this government likes pharmacies, what do they have against GPs',
is that why we are stuck with this cheapy Astra Zeneca who no one wants, they did not even send one dose of Pfizer.
can our college explain

Dr Emad Mikhael Hanna   13/08/2021 8:24:01 AM

I have a 87 years old elderly gentleman who lives in a retirement village, who suffered from a pulmonary embolism after I gave him Astra Zeneca Vaccine on 25/3/2021, so he was admitted to hospital, his hematologist and his thoracic physician do not want him to have Astra Zeneca vaccine anymore but to have Pfizer vaccine only,
how is that if the Covid vaccine distribution center in his wisdom chose not to supply any Pfizer vaccine to us?

Dr Mark Edwin Michael Goss   13/08/2021 8:46:40 AM

The RACGP is so busy "backing" PLAN2 that they forgot to advocate for general practice to be frontline for all COVID vaccines. Shame on you!

Dr Srdjan Ilic   13/08/2021 10:30:54 AM

This is unbelievable. If this government and health authorities can not make organisation of immunisation better, they should all resign. My practice in WA, still did not get Pfizer at all despite many promises, patients are more and more reluctant for Astra, and some who has a clear contraindication for Astra can not get Pfizer either and are coming back complaining about it and you can not help them. And now this. And where are RACGP, AHPRA or AMA? They are very prompt when it is necessary to raise membership and ask for it or to make GPs life worse with making CPD more difficult. I mean.....

Dr Michael Denis Hodgett   13/08/2021 11:54:28 AM

I had a flu vaccination at a pharmacy one year ago. He didn’t wear gloves and he inserted the needle into the tendon of my deltoid not into the muscle. Give me the nurse at the GP or the GP her/himself any day

Dr Ayanthi Sonali Rodrigo Goonewardene   13/08/2021 12:16:35 PM

I’m ABSOLUTELY DISAPPOINTED IN RACGP for not advocating for us! .. we’re stuck with AZ that no one wants & the pharmacies get priority for Moderna? … a nice slap in the face!! Thanks RACGP for supporting us!

Dr Andrew Robert Jackson   13/08/2021 12:50:45 PM

Making weak excuses for cosying up to the federal government and the pharmacy guild (the latter an impressive advocacy group unlike the College) with lame slogans all along the lines of "we're all in this together"

Dr Wah Khaing   13/08/2021 1:50:15 PM

I don’t think it makes sense the GPs have been left out in this Moderna .
Earlier at the roll out, when unsure how safely vaccines can be given , GPs were guinea pigs . More papers and rules for GPs despite this is the job we did for decades.
No social distancing , unsure about dosing standards, the DOH favours pharmacies too much . If Moderna available for pharmacy it should be available to GPs.

Dr Rajiv Joshi   13/08/2021 3:15:22 PM

forced bulk billing, low levels of remuneration, extra training that served little purpose, rapid policy changes that results in patients having to be moved around, website details released prior to vaccines being available, Having to wait till some politician speaks before updates occur, the list goes on. Covid19 was one nightmare - the overly bureaucratic, and churlish response to everything was another. The RACGP, The various venal state leaders, and the prime minister were worthless when it came to the pinch.

Dr Jessica Legrand   13/08/2021 4:24:02 PM

I would like to ask if there are any plans to make availability for Pfizer and Moderna vaccines privately. Quite a few patients above age 60 would be willing to pay for these vaccines themselves, myself and my friends inclusive. Apart from the concerns about AZ side effects & lesser efficacy, lots of people wonder how are they going to resume international travel. As we heard, AZ vaccine is not recognised in the USA and possibly other countries as a valid immunisation.

Dr Shauna Jean McGlone   13/08/2021 8:20:23 PM

I agree with every statement that has been made. There has been no guidance (other than follow the every changing government line) or message of support to members from the RACGP. Numerous studies document the influence that GPs have in assisting people make healthcare decisions. And without support we are left as individuals to research and provide guidance to our patients. If preventative medicine is a core component of our work why are so many of my colleagues not initiating the conversation of "what are you thoughts on COVID vaccination"?
I have so many questions. Today's is "why could students living in residential colleges at one of Australia's oldest universities access Pfizer today yet the homeless people outside my clinic cannot/". Their were many questions before and there will be more tomorrow. I used to be proud to be an Australian and a GP. Now I am ashamed.

Dr Aline Suan Lin Smith   13/08/2021 8:55:55 PM

This is extremely unfair.
Moderna has less side effects.
Why are GPs been asked to do the hard yards when pharmacies just get access to M , we should have equity of access.

Dr Olga Pylypyak   13/08/2021 10:06:07 PM

Is there any chance to swap AstraZeneca to Moderna with pharmacist? They could deliver AstraZeneca more successfully if they have priority

Rural GP   14/08/2021 11:10:44 AM

A slap in the face for a service doing the hard yards. Its just politics and its demorailising. wWhen we are getting flogged, over AZ. Where were our GP advocates?
Its obvious we are the most nimble, cost efficient and targeted approach to mass immunisation, We just need support : Shameful.

Dr William S Poh   14/08/2021 9:35:50 PM

RACGP= All talks but no action. This is the last nail in the coffin for the quiet working bees of the general practice. I was aspired by Dr Michael Kidd when the College was in trouble and continue to be a member until today. It is about time I leave the college for good. In the time of national crisis, the leadership has totally failed to secure vaccines for the poor members!!

Dr William Trevor Hurlow   15/08/2021 8:18:04 AM

Please explain how this is the best way forward?
Another opportunity for the RACGP to support their paying clientele lost!
The "ONE WAY" we GPs could have been supported after months of sweat and tears and frustration over vaccine availability would have been to have a mRNA vaccine freely available. This would have slotted in nicely with the hours of advice and convincing we have done in advancing vaccine hesitancy/resistance. (answering antivaxxers/facebook etc)
Now no Moderna for GPs and still no Pfizer available for most GPs - shameful
(Add in the shambolic BB payment for GPs for vaccine advice)
I will be voting with my subscription next time round.

Dr Iain James Haig Anderson   16/08/2021 8:45:59 AM

Once again wondering why I pay RACGP fees. The update webinars from the DoH are also the most patronizing waste of time and where is RACGP in providing effective advocacy and up to date scientific information that we can use to empower our patients.