RACGP says changes to children’s vaccine rollout are urgently needed

Matt Woodley

11/01/2022 4:42:45 PM

Widespread reports of practices not receiving enough doses – or in some cases none at all – are just one issue highlighted by the college.

Pfizer paediatric COVID-19 vaccines.
Some deliveries of the COVID-19 paediatric vaccine have reportedly not arrived, with no explanation from government. Image: AAP

The RACGP has called on the Federal Government to urgently repair the Australia’s troubled COVID vaccine rollout for children aged 5–11.
It comes following widespread reports of practices receiving insufficient stock, having orders cancelled at the last minute or doses not arriving without any explanation.
To help alleviate the situation, the RACGP has urged the Government to:

  • work with state and territory governments to make additional state and territory-allocated paediatric vaccines available for use in general practices 
  • ensure general practices receive the vaccine doses they have requested when they need them
  • make more doses available to general practices who have the capacity to deliver additional vaccines
  • improve lines of communication with GPs and their teams and advise ahead of time if deliveries are going to be delayed
  • provide a funding boost to practices so that they can accommodate more children’s vaccinations.
With primary school due to return by the first week of February across Australia, RACGP President Dr Karen Price said there is no time to lose.
‘GPs and their practice teams are trying to vaccinate the nation’s children with one arm tied behind their back,’ she said.
‘Omicron cases are escalating and term one of school is fast approaching. Urgent improvements to the children’s vaccine rollout must happen now so that our kids can receive at least one vaccine dose before returning to the classroom.
‘GPs are telling me that they can’t obtain enough stock, while others have had their orders cancelled at the last minute.
‘Some practices are being given 50 or 100 doses a week when they have around 1500 children on their books. It’s not hard to do the maths and realise that we simply cannot keep up with demand.’
Dr Price said she is concerned people will again take out their frustrations on exhausted practice teams doing their best in a ‘very challenging’ situation, and that some parents may ‘give up’ on vaccinating their children if supply issues persist.
To help avoid either of these scenarios occurring, she said more doses should be allocated to general practice.
According to Government figures seen by newsGP, less than half of the nearly 1.9 million doses set to be delivered to vaccine providers by 21 January have been earmarked for GPs; and while more than 433,000 went to general practices last week, only 93,500 are due to arrive in the week up to 14 January.
A further 315,000 will be sent to general practices the following week, but Dr Price has still urged the Government to ‘recalibrate’ how doses are being distributed nationwide.
‘The issue is that many parents and carers want to have their children vaccinated by their family GP because people know and trust them,’ she said.
‘We immunise children every year and have the training and expertise to make the experience as comfortable as possible.
‘The Federal Government needs to work with the state and territory governments to make additional state and territory-allocated paediatric vaccines available for use in general practice.’
State and territory mass vaccination clinics are due to receive more than 480,000 doses prior to 21 January, in addition to the more than 255,000 that were delivered last week.
Aside from supply issues, the ongoing lack of communication from Government – an issue that has persisted throughout the pandemic – reportedly continues to hamper GP vaccination efforts.
‘Once again, communication with general practice teams has been lacking,’ Dr Price said.
‘Some practices awaiting delivering of vaccines didn’t receive any doses and no explanation was provided. We are working under an extraordinary amount of pressure and families are understandably anxious to have their children vaccinated.
‘The Federal Government needs to make clear and transparent communication with general practice teams a high priority.’
Funding also remains a problem, Dr Price said, as vaccinating children is a more complex and time-consuming task compared to adults.
‘Children require more time and care, as well as space because their parents or carers come with them, and this has to be factored in by practices planning vaccine clinics,’ she said.
‘Late last year we cautiously welcomed an increase in payments for practices delivering booster vaccines.
‘[But] without appropriate funding, it is harder for practices to get the job done and make ends meet at the end of the day. The Government must be mindful that practices need to remain viable and right now our resources are being sorely stretched.’
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Dr David Zhi Qiang Yu   12/01/2022 10:24:52 PM

Many clinic now have excessive adult dose of Pfizer vaccine . Please ask the government to allow GPs to use the adult vaccine in the reduced dose of pediatric (according to the guideline) to deliver of ago of 5-11 year old children.