The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging South Australians to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.
The latest figures reveal that 48.4% of the state’s population have received two COVID-19 vaccine doses.
South Australia, West Australia, the Northern Territory and Queensland have announced that people aged 60 and over can opt for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as well as the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine at the state-run vaccination hubs. The Moderna vaccine is also available to people aged 60 and over at pharmacies.
The federal Department of Health has also confirmed that general practices can opt to apply the new criteria and take additional bookings based on state and territory eligibility criteria (including Pfizer vaccines for people aged 60 and over) if they have capacity and available stock.
RACGP South Australia spokesperson Dr Amy Moten urged patients to roll up their sleeves.
“All people eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine should do so right away,” she said.
“South Australia has had no community transmission for months, which is great news. So well done to the vast majority of people who acted responsibly and did all those things that make such a difference such as checking in and getting tested if feeling unwell.
“What I fear, however, is that a sense of complacency may have crept in across the state. Unlike in other states and territories, where COVID-19 case numbers are high, including New South Wales, Victoria and the ACT, the virus is not a daily feature of life here and may seem like a problem for other parts of the country.
“The reality is that COVID-19 will reach South Australia and we must be prepared. There are positive steps we can take and that includes all eligible people stepping forward to receive their vaccinations.
“When COVID-19 arrives, it will be unvaccinated people more likely to contract the virus and suffer serious effects – including hospitalisation or worse. So, we must make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated in coming weeks.
“This isn’t just about keeping yourself safe from harm, by getting vaccinated you are also protecting the broader community and that includes vulnerable people such as older patients and the immunocompromised.
“So, my message for all unvaccinated people is simple – get vaccinated with both your doses as soon as you can.”
Dr Moten warned that people over 60 across South Australia were particularly at risk.
“The best vaccine for patients 60 and over is the vaccine they can get right now,” she said.
“People aged 60 and over should be mindful that if they do contract COVID-19 they are more at risk of serious effects. That includes being hospitalised and suffering from the dreaded ‘long COVID’.”
The South Australian RACGP spokesperson also made a plea for people to treat general practice staff with courtesy and respect.
“Please remember, expanding Pfizer vaccine eligibility to people aged 60 and over in South Australia only applies at our state-run vaccination hubs and some general practices. In terms of practices, this will depend on each practice’s capacity and available vaccine stock and whether they have already vaccinated priority populations,” she said.
“Be mindful that not all general practices will be able to give people aged 60 and over a Pfizer vaccine, it will depend on their circumstances.
“My message is clear as can be – please don’t take your frustrations out on practice managers, receptionists and nurses just trying to do their job. They don’t make the rules and have been through enough already during this vaccine rollout.”