Government seeks general practice EOIs for COVID vaccine rollout

Matt Woodley

22/01/2021 3:17:54 PM

GPs will form the backbone of ‘one of the greatest logistical exercises’ in Australian history.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said general practice is the ‘core’ of Australia’s healthcare system. (Image: AAP)


General practice clinics interested in taking part in the Australian coronavirus vaccine rollout can now submit expressions of interest (EOI).

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Australian Government is seeking EOIs from all accredited general practices.

The EOI is currently capped at 1000 practices and is aimed at clinics able to provide mass vaccinations.
‘General practices will play a key role in the Australian Government’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, in what will be one of the greatest logistical exercises, public health or otherwise, in Australian history,’ he said.
‘Providing access to safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for everyone in Australia is a key priority.
‘General practices will help deliver the vaccine initially to priority groups, starting with people over 70, adults with underlying medical conditions, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in phase 1b. Three more phases will follow until the whole country has been offered the vaccine.’
newsGP understands that practice nurses will also be able to administer the vaccines and bill the new Medicare items without GPs being present, though GPs will need to oversee the process. 

The RACGP and Australian Medical Association (AMA) issued a joint press release in response to the announcement, which encouraged all general practices to become involved in the rollout.
‘Australia’s trusted general practitioners today stand united to work with the Government on rolling out COVID-19 vaccines across the community and the nation,’ the statement read.
‘The AMA and RACGP have worked collaboratively with Health Minister Greg Hunt over the past weeks to ensure the vaccine rollout is delivered with patient safety as the first priority.
‘This is an important moment for the Australian community. We have gone from no coronavirus vaccine a year ago to several vaccines, with the first expected to be rolled out next month.
‘GPs are ready to help vaccinate and protect the community from COVID-19 as soon as vaccines are fully approved for use in Australia, and available for delivery.’
Following the submission of EOIs, the Government will work with Primary Health Networks (PHNs) to determine general practice distribution points for the vaccine.
However, Commonwealth-funded GP-led respiratory clinics and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services will be administered through separate processes and are not required to complete an EOI to take part in the rollout.
While welcoming the announcement, the joint AMA and RACGP release made it clear that both organisations have been working to ensure that considerations including rurality, after-hours access, the increased complexity of the vaccine, and equipment supplies have been taken into account.
‘This is just the beginning. Now the hard work begins to manage the logistical challenges of the biggest public health undertaking in Australian history,’ the announcement states.
‘We are [also] working with the Government on information and consent forms to ensure that anyone receiving a vaccine gives their full, informed consent first.
‘It is critical that all Australians have trust in the COVID vaccine rollout, and understand what it means for them and the people around them.’
The level of financial support the Government will provide to participating general practice clinics has also not yet been revealed.
Logistical challenges notwithstanding, Minister Hunt expressed confidence in general practice’s ability to undertake what he described as an ‘immense task’.
‘Australian GPs have considerable experience administering vaccines … [and] general practices are key players in Australia having one of the highest vaccination rates in the world,’ he said.
‘General practices are the core of our health system and those involved in supporting the vaccine rollout will include GPs and primary healthcare nurses, as well as their support staff, including practice managers, receptionists, cleaners, and IT support.
‘The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is a new frontier. It will bring new challenges, and I am very confident that our healthcare workforce is well placed for this immense task.’
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Dr Thi Thu Giang Nguyen   23/01/2021 5:00:31 PM

I am interested in participating in the Covid vaccine roll out program
Thank you

Dr Michael Willoughby Nixon   24/01/2021 2:29:45 PM

Happy to Help with this important initiative

Dr Neil Warren Donovan   26/01/2021 9:12:00 AM

I am keen, and have been championing the cause of Influenza clinics each year and now coming COVID clinics. Never has General Practice been so engaged in public health.
So I am worried when they talk about 1000 clinics but then say all practices? Why the limit? How will that effect small rural towns. Please dont let anything hold us back. We are so ready to step up.

Dr Tin Nguyen   26/01/2021 3:50:18 PM

I am the owner of a solo medical practice. My practice isn’t accredited. Does that mean I am not allowed to participate in the roll out program? What is going to happen to my patients, particularly the elderly patients

Dr Christopher Derek Johnson   29/01/2021 6:04:42 AM

I look after three nursing homes as a solo GP.
It should be me sorting out their vaccines.
This sounds like a farce!