TGA decision will ‘open up’ general practice to Pfizer

Matt Woodley

25/05/2021 7:04:31 PM

Australia’s medical regulator has said the COMIRNATY coronavirus vaccine can now be stored in standard fridges for up to a month.

Pfizer vaccine vial in a freezer.
The TGA has ruled that the Pfizer COVID vaccine can be stored at temperatures between 2–8°C for up to 31 days. (Image: AAP)

In a move forecast by newsGP last week, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has followed European regulators by allowing the Pfizer COVID vaccine to be stored between 2–8°C for up to 31 days.
It was initially believed that the mRNA vaccine could only be stored long term at temperatures below -70°C, making it difficult for general practice to be involved in its rollout without a significant infrastructure investment.
However, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said the ‘important decision’ made by the TGA on Monday night will ‘open up’ general practice and pharmacy to roll out the Pfizer vaccine.
The move means millions of Australians under 50 will now potentially be able to receive a COVID vaccine from their usual GP, after the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) had previously recommended that they not receive the AstraZeneca vaccine due to the rare possibility of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome
RACGP President Dr Karen Price told Nine Newspapers the approval is a ‘game-changer’ for the vaccine rollout, provided there is enough supply in future to meet demand.
‘GPs have capacity. All around the country we have been saying we have capacity to do more doses,’ she said.
‘We do this with the flu vaccine every year. GPs are the mass vaccinators of the country.’
But while the ruling means GPs will likely be able to deliver a number of different vaccines towards the end of the year, Dr Price encouraged people aged over 50 to still receive the AstraZeneca vaccine as a matter of urgency.
‘It’s a very safe vaccine, it’s going to help them from dying,’ she said.
RACGP Vice-President Dr Bruce Willett also warned eligible patients to not wait for a different vaccine, and told newsGP the current outbreak in Victoria emphasises the need for the majority of the community to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
‘We certainly have patients who are saying that they want to wait until the Pfizer vaccine becomes available,’ he said.
‘But October is a long way away and anything can happen in that time.
‘And of course, the other thing is we know that none of these vaccinations are completely side effect free. We need to have a strong message that people can’t afford to wait.’
The Federal Government has promised a supply of two million Pfizer doses each week from October, but last week was only able to release 352,170 COMIRNATY doses.
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