The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has today welcomed news that 900 additional general practices will begin delivering the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Expressions of Interests open today and close Monday, with the practices to be allocated 150 doses a week and commencing vaccinations mid-June.
Accredited and non-accredited practices that participate in the National Immunisation Program can apply and a key focus will be bringing on board practices in areas where there are currently no GPs involved in the vaccine rollout.
It comes as the Victorian Government announced a seven-day lockdown for the state commencing midnight tonight.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price said the announcement highlighted why general practice is so vital to the vaccine rollout.
“Despite encountering numerous challenges including patchy supply, general practices are doing a tremendous job,” she said.
“General practice is a mass vaccination program; we are in communities across Australia and well placed to increase vaccine confidence and uptake. Patients know and trust their GP; we are connected to our communities.
“Today’s announcement concerning the additional practices is a welcome step forward, particularly since there will be a particular focus on getting GPs on board in areas where there is currently limited access to vaccination locations – including remote and rural areas.
“GPs have been dealing with increasing vaccine hesitancy and so we are also calling on the Government to introduce new Medicare items so that we can counsel patients who are wavering on whether to be vaccinated or not. This will enable us to take the time to answer any questions and talk through why getting vaccinated is so important.”
Dr Price also encouraged eligible people to roll up their sleeves and get vaccinated.
“My message is straightforward and increasingly urgent – if you are eligible to be vaccinated, get vaccinated right away,” she said.
“From midnight tonight, Victorians will be under lockdown once more. It shows plainly that this pandemic is not over, and that we must not become complacent. We do not know where or when more outbreaks like this will occur – it could happen anywhere.
“Vaccinated people are far less likely to suffer serious effects if they contract the virus and emerging data suggests they are also less likely to transmit the disease.
“So please, for your own health and, for the sake of the entire community, get vaccinated as soon as you are eligible. Do not wait for another vaccine because you could be waiting a long time and it is not worth the risk. If you can receive a jab, get vaccinated right away.
“For all Victorians, vaccinations are one of the permitted reasons to leave your home and people aged between 40 to 49 can receive the Pfizer vaccine from tomorrow.”
The RACGP President also reminded Victorians that their GP is there to help.
“Fellow Victorians, I know that this lockdown will not be easy but please remember to have any health concerns addressed right away,” she said.
“Even with the restrictions announced today, you can and should consult with your GP for any ongoing or new health issues.
“For any people experiencing mental health challenges please reach out and speak to your GP. Support is available, you are not on your own.
“Please check in with people in your life, such as friends and family, and do what you can to look after yourself. I repeat again that if you have any health concerns, including mental health concerns, please consult with your GP right away.”