The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is urging Victorians to receive their 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.
RACGP Victoria Chair Dr Anita Munoz urged more patients to follow the example of many Victorians and roll up their sleeve.
“We haven’t got a moment to lose, all eligible people should get vaccinated right away,” she said.
“It’s positive news that so many Victorians are doing the right thing, including getting tested if they have symptoms and abiding by the restrictions in place.
“Our vaccination rates are improving too but now is the time to do even better. We must be clear eyed about the fact that once we move forward and reach the targets set out in the roadmap, the virus will circulate more freely in the community.
“I know that is not a pleasant thing to think about, but it’s the reality we face. It is unvaccinated people more likely to contract the virus and suffer serious effects, including hospitalisation or worse.
“We should learn from what other countries around the world have experienced and make sure as many people as possible are vaccinated in the coming weeks and months.
“Let’s stop a preventable public health crisis from occurring that will place enormous pressure on the state’s health system and claim lives. To protect yourself and the broader community, including vulnerable people such as older patients and the immunocompromised, get vaccinated right now – don’t delay.”
Dr Munoz warned that people over 60 across the state were particularly at risk.
“The best vaccine for patients aged 60 and over is the vaccine they can get right now,” she said.
“In Victoria, patients aged 60 and over can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. Those with certain underlying health conditions can access the Pfizer vaccine at a state hub or via their GP if the practice has supply and booking capacity, but this is no guarantee.
“Despite what has occurred in other states and territories, it is not the case that the floodgates have been opened in Victoria for people aged 60 and over to receive the Pfizer vaccine. That vaccine is currently prioritised for those who can only receive this vaccine, including children and adolescents aged 12 to 17. We have ample stock of the AstraZeneca vaccine sitting on shelves ready to save lives.
“If you hold out for a Pfizer vaccine, it may be some time before you can get it and, in the meantime, you could contract the virus. Remember that Premier Andrews has been quite firm on not broadly opening access to Pfizer to everyone aged 60 and over at this stage.
“Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are extremely effective and safe, and people aged 60 and over face a greater risk of suffering severe effects from COVID-19.”
The Victoria RACGP Chair also made a plea for patients to be respectful of general practice staff.
“Please remember that in Victoria, Pfizer vaccine eligibility has not been expanded to people aged 60 and over,” she said.
“So, if you are aged 60 or over in Victoria and turn up to your local practice demanding a Pfizer jab, they may not be able to help.
“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.”