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At least 500 private healthcare staff to assist with COVID vaccines


Matt Woodley


21/01/2021 6:29:02 PM

They will augment the role performed by general practice, which the Federal Health Minister described as the ‘cornerstone’ of the rollout.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the AstraZeneca vaccines that will be distributed mainly by general practice are Australia’s ‘ace in the hole’.

It is expected that the new workforce will assist with delivering vaccines to residential aged care facilities and to people in specific workplaces, such as border and quarantine staff, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities not serviced by Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).
 
Sonic Clinical, Aspen Medical, Healthcare Australia and International SOS will supply the additional manpower, which will begin at 500 but is ‘uncapped’.
 
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters the vaccine rollout remains on schedule – pending approvals – even though Pfizer/BioNTech has reduced shipments to Europe and North America while it ramps up production.
 
‘Phase 1a, is for the Pfizer hubs. So that will be based out of hospitals, and that’s dependent on the likely supply that we have,’ Minister Hunt said.
 
‘We don’t have confirmation yet of the exact numbers or exact dates, but we have no change in our guidance to the country in terms of the second half of February for commencement.’
 
The mRNA candidate is the most advanced along Australia’s approval pathway, with Minister Hunt anticipating the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will make a final determination before the end of the month.
 
The Guardian has also reported that the Chair of Australia’s Advisory Committee on Vaccines, Professor Allen Cheng, expects the TGA will approve the vaccine ‘pretty soon’.
 
The Federal Government anticipates doses will begin at around 80,000 per week, but this will be highly dependent on the number of vaccines Australia is able to import from Pfizer/BioNTech.
 
However, in order to reach the goal of immunising 4 million Australians by the end of March, distribution will need to increase to more than 650,000 doses per week – without even taking into account the second doses that will need to be administered for both the Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneca vaccines to be effective.
 
According Minister Hunt, this is where general practice comes in.
 
‘To be honest, our ace in the hole here is the contract for 50 million units of domestic production of AstraZeneca,’ he said.
 
‘We have the comfort and security of sovereign production here in Australia, and that’s what allows us to go to the second part where we begin to distribute more broadly, which is precisely about using that existing national vaccination network, which delivers the flu vaccine every year.
 
‘General practice is the cornerstone.’
 
Minister Hunt said between 30–50 state and Commonwealth vaccination clinics will also take part, alongside the Pfizer hospital hubs, ACCHOs, and pharmacies.
 
‘By expanding to that existing network, we build that capacity rapidly to a network that was only last year able to distribute 17 million vaccinations in a very similar period of time, but supplemented this year by all of those additional elements,’ he said.
 
‘All of those groups are already in place, [the added workforce] is to provide the additional support either with any of those or, in particular, with the outreach to Indigenous communities, aged care centres, and workplaces such as supporting border control and quarantine staff.’
 
Healthcare worker training related to administering the new vaccine is expected to start within the next fortnight, if not earlier.
 
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Dr Peter JD Spafford   22/01/2021 11:55:25 AM

And Greg Hunt does not think GPs are private health care providers? What the f****


Dr Neil John Bodsworth   20/02/2021 11:01:54 AM

Can GPs who have not done the training bill for supervising vaccinations by staff who have?