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Free flu vaccinations: Everything GPs need to know


Jolyon Attwooll


6/06/2022 4:20:50 PM

Universally free flu vaccines are now available – in theory at least – across all Australian states. Here, newsGP sums up the latest details.

Flu vaccine in a general practice
State governments hope the initiative will encourage much wider take-up of flu vaccinations this season.

With the return of influenza to Australia – and case numbers and hospitalisations rising rapidly – every state government has now announced that flu vaccinations will be free for everyone over the age of six months for at least the rest of June.
 
It is a huge expansion of eligibility for free vaccines beyond those who qualify under the National Immunisation Program (NIP), and has required some very rapid administrative work to clarify how it will work in general practices around the country.
 
Here, newsGP looks at what is happening across all the states and territories, and what general practices involved will need to do to claim the cost for state-government-supported vaccines.
 
Note that this is the best available information currently available. With many practices reporting supply as a significant issue, combined with the extremely swift changes in a major vaccination program, these details may be subject to further updates and clarifications.
 
NSW
Free vaccine program dates: 1–30 June.
 
Vaccination rebate: The reimbursement in NSW is for the purchase cost of the vaccine. Note that this is different to most states, which have instead said that vaccines will be reimbursed at a fixed cost per dose.
 
How to claim: According to NSW Health, GPs need to submit a declaration form once the program has ended for reimbursement. Details of the form have not been shared yet.
 
Any further information: As well as reimbursing GPs for privately sourced vaccine stocks, NSW Health has stated that GPs will be also able to obtain state purchased FluQuadri vaccine from the State Vaccine Centre.
 
NSW Health has stated that ‘GPs should continue to prioritise NIP supplies for eligible patients’.
 
Queensland
Free vaccine program dates: 24 May – 30 June.
 
Vaccination rebate: $21.95, not including GST, for privately purchased vaccines only.
 
How to claim: Proof of purchase and an invoice with quantity and type of vaccine ordered should be submitted to Queensland Health for privately purchased vaccine stocks only.
 
See the Queensland Health document outlining how to invoice.
 
Any further information: Full details including instructions for general practices applying for reimbursement, are available on the Queensland Health website.
 
South Australia
Free vaccine program dates: 29 May – 30 June.
 
Vaccination rebate: $21.95 (not including GST), for privately purchased vaccines only.
 
How to claim: General practices that are new suppliers to SA Health need to register on the state government payment system as soon as possible.
 
Invoices for flu vaccinations given from consolidated invoice with applicable costs to be submitted no later than close of business on Thursday 7 July 2022 for influenza vaccinations administered between 29 May and 30 June 2022 only.
 
Further information: SA Health has said it will not be able to supply general practices any further vaccines stocks, and states that GPs should source supplies ‘via usual channels and submit applications for reimbursement for those administered’.

It also states that only individual vaccinations will be reimbursed, rather than entire shipments of privately sourced vaccines.
 
See full details on the SA Health website.

Tasmania
Free vaccine program dates: 6 June – 6 July.
 
Vaccination rebate: $21.50 (not including GST), which the state’s health department says will cover the cost of both the vaccine and administration. The Tasmanian Department of Health has stated that claims for payment can only be made for vaccines delivered during this period, and that the fee will be paid regardless of source (ie both National Immunisation Program and privately sourced).
 
How to claim: Reimbursement claims should be invoiced to the Tasmanian Department of Health in Hobart. Invoices should be sent to the Tasmanian Department of Health (TasVaxAdmin@health.tas.gov.au), with terms stated as ‘for immediate payment on receipt of invoice’.
 
Further information: The department has said they would prefer invoices before 23 June and that final invoices should be received no later than 20 July.
 
Victoria
Free vaccine program dates: 1–30 June.
 
Vaccination rebate: $25, not including GST, for privately purchased vaccines only. The department has stated this reimbursement ‘is separate to Medicare Benefit Scheme (MBS) billing requirements or other billing processes, which can continue as per usual practice’.
 
How to claim: General practices have until 13 June to register with the Department of Health to be eligible for payments. For reimbursement, general practices will need to send invoices providing details of the number of doses administered in June.
 
Further information: A $2000 grant is also available to cover further administration costs. To be eligible practices must administer at least 50 flu vaccinations this month, with an additional eight hours of vaccination appointments.
 
Keep track of further updates on the Victorian Department of Health website.
 
A webinar was also held with input from the RACGP and the Victorian Department of Health last week, with a recording available on the RACGP website.
 
Western Australia
Free vaccine program dates: 1–30 June.
 
Vaccination rebate: $22, for privately purchased vaccines only.
 
How to claim: Registrations will be required after 7 June for general practices to access the state government’s ordering system.
 
Further details:
Similar to Victoria, there will be a one-off grant of $2000 available to general practices if they administer a minimum of 50 flu vaccinations in June. They will also need to ‘provide information on additional activities undertaken to promote uptake of the influenza vaccine’.
 
RACGP WA states that GPs do not need to change the way they normally bill for consultations as part of the initiative and that ‘billing structures remain at the discretion of individual practices’.
 
Further details on the program are available on the WA Department of Health website.
 
What about the territories?
 
ACT
The ACT has not joined the states in expanding free vaccination to everyone, although this weekend it did say it will provide free vaccines to concession card holders through territory run clinics only, and not general practices.
 
Northern Territory
Authorities in the territory have not announced any plans to expand eligibility for free vaccines.
 
The RACGP has promotional material, including posters, for GPs to let patients know they are providing the flu vaccine, available on the RACGP website.
 
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