GPs in dark over their role in vaccine rollout

Dr. Joasia Zakrzewski Photo: Nathan Damcevski

Doctors on the Peninsula have been left unaware of their role in Australia’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout after a lack of communication from senior staff.

The announcement comes after the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) welcomed government confirmation that GPs were to help with the rollout and the Australian Medical Association called for expressions of interest from general practices to take part in the safe delivery of the vaccine.

Joasia Zakrzewski, a doctor at Umina Surgery on West Street, said she had received little communication about this decision from the Government.

“There hasn’t been that much communication with us directly, so a lot is picked up via [the] media, and emails from the colleges and word of mouth,” Zakrzewski said.

“Hopefully the program will start to roll out in February and then will move quickly.

“GPs aren’t involved in the first rollout – they’re going to be done with the Pfizer vaccine in seven supercentres, I think.

“Then I think GPs will be involved in the AstraZeneca vaccine as that doesn’t have the same cold requirements and is made in Australia.

“We do not get classified as first line so we’re second in line for the vaccine anyway.”

However, doctors working in GP-led respiratory clinics are set to receive the vaccine in phase 1a of the rollout in keeping with their critical role and safety concerns.

RACGP President, Dr Karen Price, said GPs will play an important role in the vaccine rollout.

“This is a massive undertaking for our country and GPs will be essential,” Price said.

“The majority of Australians go to their GP for their vaccinations and for many Australians they will do the same for their COVID-19 vaccine.

“There are many challenges ahead, including the need to build community confidence in the new vaccines through evidence-based information campaigns that address the community’s specific concerns and deal with misinformation and myths.

“These challenges also underpin why general practice will be so crucial in the rollout.

“We are connected to our communities; we know our patients and they trust us.

The Federal Government has announced an accelerated rollout, bringing it forward to mid-to-late February, with high priority groups to receive the vaccine first.

These groups include up to 1.4 million vaccine doses for quarantine and border workers, frontline health care workers, and both aged care and disability care staff and residents.

Up to 15.8 million doses of the vaccine will then be on offer for elderly adults aged from 70 upwards, to other health care workers, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people older than 55, and younger adults with an underlying medical condition and/or disability.

The RACGP President also said general practice is one of the safest places for patients to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.

“GPs draw on a patient history and are equipped with the necessary medical training and facilities to manage any rare adverse reactions,” she said.

“General practice is also connected to the Australian Immunisation Register, which will ensure accurate record keeping of vaccine uptake.”

Maisy Rae