Health Minister calls on ‘amazing’ general practices to dig deep

Matt Woodley

22/09/2021 5:04:42 PM

Millions of incoming Pfizer doses will make the next three weeks critical to the country’s vaccine rollout, Greg Hunt has told Australia’s peak health bodies.

Greg Hunt
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt says Australia’s ‘amazing general practices’ are the ‘foundation’ of the COVID vaccine rollout. (Image: AAP)

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, the Department of Health’s (DoH) Dr Lucas de Toca, and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael Kidd were on hand at a recent roundtable meeting, along with representatives of the RACGP, ACRRM, AMA and the RDAA.
In discussing the vaccine rollout, Australia’s most senior health officials underlined the importance of GPs reaching out to patients over the coming weeks, with more than nine million Pfizer doses scheduled to arrive before the end of October.
Following the meeting, Minister Hunt told newsGP Australia’s ‘amazing general practices’ are the ‘foundation’ of the COVID vaccine rollout, having administered more than half of the 25.1 million COVID vaccine doses delivered to date.
‘Each and every one of the more than 4500 general practices administering COVID-19 vaccines is playing a vital role not just for the country, but their local communities,’ he said.
‘As supply continues to increase, more GPs will transition to having Pfizer vaccines available, as well as an uncapped supply of AstraZeneca.

‘Australians continue to rise to the challenge to be vaccinated and our GPs are vital to this process.’
RACGP President Dr Karen Price, who was also at the roundtable, told newsGP it was a positive meeting and that it was clear how much Minister Hunt appreciated the effort general practice has put in throughout the pandemic.
‘The Minister thanked GPs, nurses and practice staff for all the wonderful work that has been done over the past 18 months in keeping Australians safe and well,’ she said.
‘However, while everyone knows how hard we’ve been working and how tired we all are, there was also an acknowledgement of just how important these next three weeks will be for the rollout and Australia’s inevitable transition to the next phase of our COVID response.
‘Millions of extra Pfizer doses are going to arrive from October, so the Minister has asked that wherever possible, we bring forward bookings and also contact our vulnerable and hard-to-reach patients through whatever means we have at our disposal.’
Dr Price said she also directly raised some ongoing issues that have been affecting GPs’ ability to administer vaccines and ensure maximum coverage.
‘One problem is that GPs can’t search through the Australian Immunisation Register to confirm whether patients have received a COVID vaccine through another channel, such as state hubs, pharmacy or other general practices,’ she said.
‘The Minister has indicated that he will seek to fast-track a solution to this issue.
‘We would also like to see vaccine delivery better matched to practices that have further capacity to ramp up dose numbers. This has been particularly challenging of late, as the department has recently been expanding the number of sites involved in the rollout and wanted to ensure every practice had some supply.
‘However, we were told this should also improve over the next three weeks and that there will be greater flexibility for practices to increase their vaccination activity.’
And despite reports of a ‘problem’ with the expected Pfizer supply in October, a spokesperson for Operation COVID Shield said the company told the Federal Government it still anticipates being able to deliver the full shipment as planned.
‘Operation COVID Shield is currently finalising the October weekly delivery schedule with Pfizer,’ the spokesperson told newsGP.
‘[We] will be releasing an updated Allocations Horizons [document] once the details of the weekly deliveries are confirmed.’
According to official DoH statistics, the proportion of Pfizer being used in Australia is consistently increasing alongside supply.
More Pfizer doses were administered than AstraZeneca in July and August and the gap continues to grow. In the nearly three weeks up to 20 September, around 3.5 million Pfizer doses were administered compared to only around 1.5 million AstraZeneca doses.
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Dr W   23/09/2021 7:13:50 AM

“Thank you” but still no real support.
Qld health paying/pinching RNs to give COVID immunisations at the hubs => $95/hour!
Supply chains via state hubs => expect a 4/52 fridge life, but deliveries arrive with less than 2/52 life remaining

Dr Ian   23/09/2021 12:44:44 PM

Moderna which does not need as stringent preparation would be good for General Practice .
The other task will be monitoring mild Covid patients at home .
Early administration of Monoclonal Antibodies for at risk patients reduces progression by 70-85% and hundrefs of thousands of infusions have occured in the USA with 1.7 million on order .
Costly but not as costly as ICU admission .

Dr Lyn   23/09/2021 4:30:53 PM

I would like the Feds to put out a stronger advertising campaign with the statistics in it. The percentage of age groups that go to ICU, that die, that get Long Covid. I was explaining this to a vaccine hesitant patient who said 'no body ever explained this to me'.

Dr Virginia Lee Reid   24/09/2021 3:30:56 PM

Agree with all comments made so far

Shame we were lead to encourage all those young people to get AZ and telling our over 60s they will have to wait a really long time to get Pfizer Makes a bit of a lier of us !
Im now afraid to make recommendations about boosters because they keep changing the information with this erratic supply, and heaven knows they may then be telling everyone they need to get them when they have too much and don't want it to go to waste. The information seems to be based on supply not scientific evidence .