Who can get the COVID vaccine in your part of the country?

Matt Woodley

9/06/2021 4:47:43 PM

With more states and territories forming their own guidelines, newsGP breaks down who is eligible and how they can organise their vaccination.

Infographic showing Australian vaccine criteria.
States and territories are increasingly establishing their own COVID vaccination criteria.

Western Australia has become the latest jurisdiction to expand on federal COVID-19 eligibility guidelines and is now allowing anyone over 30 to book an appointment at state-run mass-vaccination centres.
The move, intended to create a ‘snowball effect’ and help address vaccine hesitancy, follows similar initiatives from the Northern Territory and South Australia, as well as a recent National Cabinet decision to lower the eligibility age to 40 and older after reports of thousands of doses being left unused at mass-vaccination centres.
WA’s expansion has drawn some criticism from the AMA, which has called on Premier Mark McGowan to prioritise vaccinating all aged care workers first. But RACGP President Dr Karen Price recently told newsGP that health authorities must do everything possible to vaccinate people as quickly as possible.
‘We need to get Australia vaccinated by whatever means necessary. We are a sitting duck here,’ she said.
‘We need to be mindful that we still have vulnerable people in the community who are not vaccinated and we need to be mindful that a lot of those people are preferring to go to their GP.
‘[But] If mass-vaccination clinics wish to literally put their doses into any arms that are presenting, I’m all for that. And if general practice gets increased allocations and expands its use to Pfizer vaccines, I’m all for that as well.’
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has also eased advertising restrictions and is now allowing providers to promote vaccine uptake, including through the use of rewards such as money, store vouchers, discounts or frequent flyer points.

Meanwhile, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended women at any stage of pregnancy be routinely offered the Pfizer vaccine.
‘The risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 is significantly higher for pregnant women and their unborn baby,’ an ATAGI release stated. 
‘Global surveillance data from large numbers of pregnant women have not identified any significant safety concerns with mRNA COVID-19 vaccines given at any stage of pregnancy. Furthermore, there is also evidence of antibody in cord blood and breastmilk, which may offer protection to infants through passive immunity.’
General practices and primary care mass-vaccination centres are still following criteria set by the Federal Government, but may be able to direct patients to state- or territory-run vaccination clinics, provided they meet eligibility guidelines for their area.
Australian Capital Territory
The ACT is currently following eligibility guidelines set by National Cabinet, which allow people aged 40 and older to book appointments at their local GP or at the Calvary Public Hospital COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 years and older are also eligible to receive a COVID vaccine. At the time of publication (5.00 pm 9 June 2021), the ACT had Australia’s second-highest COVID vaccination rate of 26.46 doses per 100 people.
New South Wales
Official guidelines on the NSW Health website state anyone over the age of 40 can receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Those aged 40–49 can book an appointment online at a state-run vaccination centre, whereas those over 50 can also get vaccinated at their local GP. The state is currently not taking walk-in appointments.
However, while NSW appears to be following criteria set by the National Cabinet, a number of ineligible people have reportedly booked a vaccine by using hyperlinks circulated to frontline workers for their household contacts.
Australia’s most populated state has the third-lowest COVID vaccination rate of only 19 doses per 100 people.

Northern Territory
The NT has opened its vaccination program to anyone aged 16 and older, having initially only expanded it to people living outside of Darwin.
People aged 16–49 can currently only book an appointment at an NT COVID-19 vaccine clinic, whereas people aged 50 and older can also access vaccines through respiratory clinics or participating general practices.
The NT has so far administered 24.88 doses per 100 people, which is the third-highest rate in Australia. 

People aged 40–49 are able to register online to receive a vaccine, and will be contacted by Queensland Health ‘when appointments become available’.
Some state-run clinics are accepting walk-ins for people aged 50 and older, while certain centres on the Gold Coast have also began offering vaccinations to anyone aged over 16. It has also become the first state to roll out COVID vaccines to pharmacies, with 49 sites now administering doses.
Queensland has the lowest COVID vaccination rate in Australia of 18.55 doses per 100 people.
South Australia
SA has opened up vaccinations for people aged 16 and over who live in a regional council area. The State Government has established 38 regional vaccination clinics to supplement general practices and federal respiratory clinics, while it has also set up four mass-vaccination clinics in Adelaide.
The state has Australia’s fifth-highest COVID vaccination rate of 20.63 doses per 100 people.
Tasmania is following the guidelines set by National Cabinet and vaccination appointments at state-run clinics can be booked online or via 1800 671 738. Australia’s smallest state so far has the highest COVID vaccination rate in the country of 29.16 per 100 people.
The recent COVID outbreak and subsequent lockdown has led to a surge in demand for vaccinations in Victoria, and the State Government has so far not expanded eligibility beyond National Cabinet guidelines.
Acting Premier James Merlino has said Victoria is ‘absolutely keen’ to expand eligibility to people age under 40, but it still does not have enough supply of Pfizer in order to do so.
Aside from respiratory clinics or local GPs, those eligible can either book an appointment on 1800 675 398 or present at state-run centres that accept walk-ins.
Victoria has administered the most vaccines overall in Australia to date, and has the fourth-highest rate of 22.9 doses per 100 people.
Western Australia
WA is the first state to have expanded eligibility to include those aged 30–40. The WA Department of Health currently advises eligible people can only access Pfizer vaccines at state-run clinics, along with the St James and Albany GP respiratory clinics, which have a small number of doses.
Bookings at state-run vaccination community clinics or regional public hospital-based vaccination clinics can be made online or via 13 COVID (268 43).
Cohorts that are eligible for reasons other than age must get booked at state-run centres or select GP respiratory clinics.
WA currently has the second-lowest uptake of vaccines in the state, administering only 18.82 doses per 100 people
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