National Cabinet announces no-fault indemnity scheme for GPs to administer AstraZeneca

Paul Hayes

28/06/2021 10:14:12 PM

The move opens the door for under-60s to receive the vaccine as the country looks to speed up the rollout amid a potential national outbreak.

Boxes of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
GPs are keen to give AstraZeneca to under-60s who are willing to receive it, especially as thousands of doses are due to expire soon. (Image: AAP)

The latest shake-up of Australia’s vaccine rollout has been revealed after an emergency National Cabinet meeting on Monday evening, with a no-fault indemnity scheme for GPs among the key announcements.
The move effectively means any Australians under the age of 60 who want AstraZeneca can discuss it with their GP, who can then administer the vaccine to willing patients.
‘This relates to encouraging Australians to go and chat to their GP about their vaccination, and to have their vaccination administered,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said following the National Cabinet meeting.
While previously hailed as the backbone of the Australian vaccine rollout, the locally manufactured AstraZeneca has seen its reputation severely tarnished amid ongoing reports of links to rare blood clots and multiple changes to patient guidance.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recently recommended AstraZeneca be limited to people over the age of 60 due to concerns over patients developing thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). That move followed an earlier recommendation that it be limited to people over 50.
‘The ATAGI advice talks about a preference for AstraZeneca to be available and made available to those as preferred for those over 60, but the advice does not preclude persons under 60 from getting the AstraZeneca vaccine,’ Prime Minister Morrison said.
Recent reports have indicated GPs are keen to give AstraZeneca to under-60s who are willing to receive it – especially as thousands of doses will soon expire – but they have been concerned about potential legal liabilities in the face of an adverse reaction.
‘People would like to have it, I had people who were coming in on Thursday last week who would happily have had (the AstraZeneca vaccine),’ Melbourne GP and practice owner Dr Mukesh Haikerwal told News Corp.
‘I’ve got 1500 [doses] at the moment, and I will struggle to use them by the end of September. I might get through them, but I won’t have to order anymore.’
The announcement of the no-fault indemnity scheme, however, is designed to mitigate that risk for GPs.
‘If [under-60s] wish to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, then we would encourage you to go and have that discussion with your GP,’ Prime Minister Morrison said.
‘We’ve already made announcements to support those additional consultations with the GPs so you can have that conversation.
‘And, secondly, we are also providing the indemnity scheme for those general practitioners, so they can actively engage with you, and you can make the best decision for your health.’
However, while the Government did introduce a new MBS item number to support GP vaccine counselling, the current wording only allows patients aged over 50 to access the rebate and it is not clear if it will be amended or a new item added to cater for those now eligible to receive an AstraZeneca vaccine upon request.
Monday’s National Cabinet meeting included a number of other important changes to the rollout, with vaccination now mandatory for aged care workers and post-quarantine COVID testing introduced for returned travellers.
The announcements come as Australia faces the possibility of a potential national COVID outbreak.
At the time of publication (10.00 pm 28 June 2021), the current New South Wales cluster has grown to at least 130 cases, and cases have trickled into the Northern Territory, Western Australia and Queensland, sparking lockdowns, social restrictions and mask-wearing mandates across the country.
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Dr Roberta Castorani   29/06/2021 7:43:32 AM

Also, maternity leave just like any other private sectors

Dr Ian   29/06/2021 8:17:48 AM

Any patient who wishes to risk death at a risk of one in 25,000 for the under 30 age group and one in 35,000 for under 60 has to be offered a DDimer test every second day for a month after the vaccine as well as daily follow up calls regarding Headache Chest pain Stomach pain Leg swelling and Shortness of breathe .
It’s a poor substitute for bungled vaccine acquisition and lack of measures to strongly ease slow down and lockdown .
The quarantine in hotels without windows that can be part open and spacing of people between hotel rooms plus tests and PPE has been very substandard .

Dr Graeme Hamilton Romans   29/06/2021 9:27:02 AM

The so-called "novel" vaccines, and Astra Zeneca, have not been fully tested and should not be given to under 40's.
Both aim at producing spike proteins.
It is unethical if you don't know the vaccine risk but you do know the disease risk is relatively low.
Where is the expert discussion?

Dr Michael Lucas Bailey   29/06/2021 9:56:45 AM

ATAGI still recommend the Astra Zeneca vaccine not be given to people under the age of 60. If we stuck to the Hippocratic principle of first do no harm we wouldn't use this vaccine.

What the Prime Minster and National Cabinet fail to understand is that we are doctors, not politicians. We can't just turn our conscience off. It could have been argued we should have had no fault indemnity when the vaccines came out, just like the manufacturers were given, when the side effects were less well known. Now the side effects are known. We don't need indemnity we need appropriate vaccines.

Dr Christopher Charles Newall   29/06/2021 10:06:36 AM

Are you kidding me!
No patient under 60 will want to get vaccinated with AZ.
Encourage patients to get vaccinated. Change the guidelines again and again.
Why would any body trust anything the govt says.

A.Prof Christopher David Hogan   29/06/2021 12:18:51 PM

On what basis does Dr Ian provide advice that seems to vary from the official advice?

A.Prof Christopher David Hogan   29/06/2021 12:20:26 PM

On what basis does Dr Ronans claim the "The so-called "novel" vaccines, and Astra Zeneca, have not been fully tested and should not be given to under 40's."?

A.Prof Christopher David Hogan   29/06/2021 12:39:58 PM

Dr Bailey, I have just looked at the latest ATAGI statement from 18 June.
obatainable at
"Comirnaty <Pfizer" is preferred over COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in people aged <60 years, and is recommended in people with a past history of cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST), heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT), idiopathic splanchnic (mesenteric, portal, splenic) vein thrombosis or antiphospholipid syndrome with thrombosis."
Your statement is not accurate- there is a world of difference between the words preferred & recommended. Although the media may not recognise it.

A.Prof Christopher David Hogan   29/06/2021 1:08:29 PM

I cannot see why the changing of guidelines “again & again” is regarded as a bad thing.
It just means that every document needs to be date stamped.
It is a sign that there is constant information gathering & adaption to an erratically evolving situation.
It is standard procedure when we are exposed to a pandemic with a causative agent that is constantly mutating.
It is recognition of the balancing of risk and benefit. It is balancing available resources against an evolving & variable threat.
Pandemics are messy affairs & difficult decisions are needed.
Contrary to public opinion we do not have the luxury of time.

Dr Radwan Al-Musawy   29/06/2021 2:35:53 PM

A.Prf Christopher David Hogan : how a vaccine would work - I am quoting your comment- "for constantly mutating virus and erratically evolving situation" with new variants of the virus appearing ( with more serious consequences) and not knowing that the vaccine that was build for the first variant would work on it , would be more prudent to thoroughly study the disease and its progression rather than producing a vaccine without clear efficacy (if any) against the new variant.

Rural GP   29/06/2021 4:28:49 PM

Thankyou A.Prof Hogan . I support youre statements and appreciate youre scientific rigour. It is dangerous to leave some statements out there in the public forum , unchallenged . I would argue it is prudent to vaccinate : right now.
I have this minute vaccinated a fully informed 32 year old male with AZ, at his insistence. We share the risk.

A.Prof Christopher David Hogan   29/06/2021 9:20:00 PM

Thank you Dr Radwan Al-Musawy .If all things were equal & if we had time to wait- perhaps. Sadly the longer we wait , the more chance that the virus will mutate to a more dangerous form.
Immunisation works against current strains (none is totally immune) & has a significant effect in reducing replication of the virus. It is not totally effective in this regard, but it is enough to help.
When flu virus mutates during a pandemic it often becomes less dangerous & burns out. Covid gets worse. Immunise now !

Dr Tim   30/06/2021 6:44:10 PM

I think we have become complacent here. We have been lucky and have a fantastic public health system. However we are like dry kindling with a raging fire next door.
The only widely available vaccine is astra. I thought we had got quite good at treating the clots and there have been 2 deaths. It's 1:50,000 which is the same rate of myocarditis with pfizer and moderna. No deaths however. What is the mental health toll/ increased suicides from these repeated lockdowns which are going to continue for years to come. The other issue is our pathetic vaccination rate considering our excellent health system. I dread each day I have a vaccination clinic with only astra in the fridge. I was due to vaccinate a 30y old lawyer on Friday but will have to cancel.
He wanted to have it as his parents are very worried about him in Canada.