What should GPs do to get ready for the vaccine push?

Doug Hendrie

12/02/2021 3:02:43 PM

Get your technology sorted as soon as possible, according to a GP technology expert.

Updating details and planning ahead are essential to make the COVID vaccine rollout run smoothly, according to Dr Rob Hosking.
Updating details and planning ahead are essential to make the COVID vaccine rollout run smoothly, according to Dr Rob Hosking.

Australian GPs are still waiting on clinical details regarding their role in the COVID vaccine rollout, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s decision on the AstraZeneca vaccine expected in coming days.
But while GPs wait for detail on issues such as vaccine storage, administration and management – as well as which practices will be chosen to administer the vaccines ­– other preparations can be made, according to Dr Rob Hosking, Chair of the RACGP’s Expert Committee on Practice Technology and Management (REC–PTM).
Dr Hosking gave newsGP a technology to-do list for practices expecting to participate in the COVID vaccine rollout:

  • Update your clinical software to the latest version to ensure it incorporates changes required to record data
  • If you do not currently own a QR code reader or webcam, consider buying one to speed up data input
  • Consider how you will arrange the patient’s second shot, such as by booking a second appointment while the patient is there for their first
Dr Hosking told newsGP that GPs could use the time before the rollout begins to get everything ready.
Updating directory
The Department of Health had originally planned to develop a national COVID vaccine booking system, but has since reversed that decision following RACGP feedback, Dr Hosking said.
‘They don’t want to interfere with existing GP booking systems,’ he said.
‘They listened to arguments from us to say, GPs and patients have their own established ways of booking and it varies depending on the patient. Older patients don’t tend to like online booking, while younger [patients] may prefer it.
‘It’s important not to create a barrier to vaccination.’
The reversion to the status quo – where patients seeking COVID vaccines will approach participating practices directly – means it is time to ensure practice details are up to date on the directory.
‘GPs might want to get their entry up to date with the National Health Services Directory. This has been notoriously inaccurate because it hasn’t been updated as things have changed,’ Dr Hosking said. ‘You have to contact them with the [changes].’
Updating software
Dr Hosking said that while general practice software vendors have updated their products to accommodate the new vaccines, it is important GPs ensure the updates had been applied to be able to access the changes.   
Scanning vaccine data
COVID vaccines will need to be scanned, so the system has a record of which vaccines were administered.
But the serial number for these vaccines is expected to be up to 128 characters long, making it unfeasible to manually enter it, according to Dr Hosking. Purchasing a QR reader or webcam and linking them to your computer will be considerably easier.
‘These vaccines don’t have the old batch number we’re all used to doing. They will require scanning of the box it comes in,’ Dr Hosking said.
Looking forward
GPs will have to decide whether they will use a paper patient consent form – currently being developed by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation ­– or if they will ask patients whether they understand the information given to them and if they consent verbally, with an electronic record kept.
‘We’ve been told that verbal consent will be adequate as long as you have discussed it with patients,’ Dr Hosking said. ‘There are no extra requirements for COVID vaccines compared to flu vaccines.’
Log in below to join the conversation. 

COVID-19 practice technology vaccine

newsGP weekly poll What area of medicine do you find most difficult to stay across the changing clinical evidence?

newsGP weekly poll What area of medicine do you find most difficult to stay across the changing clinical evidence?



Login to comment

Dr Timothy Yong-Fei Foong   13/02/2021 11:20:42 PM

First of all, I would like to thank the College for providing and encouraging GPs and patients to positively participate in handling this public health issue and a correct, needful directives.

Dr Khodadad Davari   14/02/2021 10:09:41 PM

Is there any one here feeling ethnically challenged for vaccinating their patients with the first ever approved DNA vaccine, AsteraZeneca, with questionable efficacy and only short term safety data.
Remember, this is only urgently approved for use in virus ravaged communities.
Shouldn't we waiting and watching a bit longer?

Dr Annabel Kain   16/02/2021 8:31:06 AM

Can Dr Hosking please explain the QR code reader/webcam scanning thing? If we have something to read the barcodes where does this information go? Is it somehow to be integrated with our clinical software? AIR? This is the first I've heard it mentioned and it seems like it would be more complicated than just "scanning the box"

Rural GP   16/02/2021 12:37:55 PM

This article did not mention the DOH Covid vaccination training programme.
This is available now and I gather is manadatory.
I am finding it difficult to negotiate , I keep completing the module but not being recognised, so stuck at module 2.
In true form, they dont allow feedback, and ,so far, bears no relationship to what GP’s do It’s all about the Pfizer vaccine . ? Will all doctors have to complete this to claim the item.? More information please
Has their system crashed ?

Dr Ahmad Al-Ani   16/02/2021 1:26:29 PM

What about clinics which are no accredited. We wish to participate