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Numbers confirm GPs are the ‘backbone’ of COVID vaccine rollout


Matt Woodley


28/04/2021 5:14:42 PM

Australia’s GPs have now administered more than 1.05 million vaccine doses – more than half the rollout’s total of 2.03 million.

Many people forming a map of Australia
Primary care has now administered more than half of all vaccines across the country.

On 12 January, RACGP President Dr Karen Price said general practice stood ‘ready, willing and able’ to administer vaccines as part of Australia’s COVID vaccination program.
 
Little more than three months on, Australia’s GPs have more than followed through.
 
The latest weekly update from Vaccines Operation Centre coordinator Commodore Eric Young has revealed that primary care has now administered more than half of all vaccines across the country, despite starting four weeks after the first doses in phase 1a were delivered.
 
Around 240,000 doses were delivered last week by the more than 4600 primary care clinics that have put their hand up to participate in the rollout, prompting Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt to laud their contribution to Australia’s vaccination effort.
 
‘Very importantly, in a matter of weeks, the general practice community has now delivered over a million vaccinations. They are the backbone of our national vaccination program,’ he said.
 
‘As [Dr] Karen Price has said … GPs are a mass vaccination program in their own right.
 
‘They’re accessible, they are working with people they know and they have, as a consequence, the ability to vaccinate Australians right across this nation.’
 
Overall, more than 356,000 vaccine doses were administered last week, up from 330,000 the week before, and that number is expected to increase further following the National Cabinet decision to fast-track the rollout of phase 2a in general practice.
 
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is also set to conduct sample testing of 173,000 doses of Pfizer that recently arrived in Australia, as well as 707,000 doses of domestically produced AstraZeneca in the coming days.
 
Dr Price praised the work of GPs participating in the rollout and told newsGP the numbers ‘speak for themselves’.
 
‘GPs have once again stepped up and delivered for the Australian public, despite the obstacles and constant change that has threatened to disrupt our good work,’ she said.
 
‘The fact that we have now delivered more than half of all COVID vaccines administered in Australia reinforces that GPs are the foundation of the country’s vaccination program and provides great hope for the future.
 
‘With the consistency of supply constantly improving, and the fast-tracked rollout of phase 2a imminent, GPs are well placed to push those numbers up even further and bring Australia ever closer to the lives we knew before the COVID-19 pandemic.’
 
Dr Price also added that the value of patients being able to access the vaccine through their usual GP is set to increase as vaccine hesitancy becomes more widespread in the community.
 
‘Patients trust us and the importance of them being able to discuss genuine concerns with the doctor who knows them best cannot be underestimated,’ she said.
 
‘The data shows us that these blood clotting events are incredibly rare, but sometimes people just want the opportunity to sit down and have a conversation with someone they know has their best interests at heart.
 
‘GPs are adaptable and so long as we are provided with the support we need to have these extended consultations, I have every faith that the program will continue as planned and Australians will soon be protected against this wicked disease.’
 
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Dr Duncan MacWalter   29/04/2021 6:46:24 AM

We are managing to dish out our 100 vaccines per week in outer Metro. We cannot recruit more nurses to help, do are finding that it's causing an effective loss of a full days GP consulting per week. This is putting a strain on the practice, with patients upset they can't get in for appointments.
We doctors are exhausted after the last 12 months, so do not wish to do any extended hours facilitate vaccine delivery. We just can't.

So we shall not be ordering more than 100/week should that ever become a possibility.
It's not a good use of our time or expertise, but it's just not possible for small clinics to create mass vaccination style clinics long term. We need to bear this in mind.


Dr Worn Out   29/04/2021 8:19:27 AM

I agree wholeheartedly with your observation - we are a large clinic, but with most doctors doing one or two 3 hour blocks each week of flu vaccines (as always) and then school holidays where doctors with children always take leave (as they should to spend valuable time with their family), we had 2 weeks where we just couldn't deliver any COVID vaccines as we didn't have enough appts for the usual patients. Then we spent 2 full day Saturdays in a row doing flu vaccines so we could catch up on the COVID vax in our fridges during the week (when we can have 2 nurses onsite during the clinics as required). On top of our usual weekend and after hours work, this is something we cant maintain indefinitely