RACGP welcomes Covid booster recommendation

Royal Australian College of GPs

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has welcomed the expansion of the COVID-19 booster rollout.

It comes following the Australian Technical Advisory Group or ATAGI opting to lower its age recommendation for a second COVID-19 booster dose to 50, with the extra shot to be also optional choice for those over 30.

RACGP Vice President Dr Bruce Willett welcomed the announcement.

“This is a sensible decision and a positive step forward in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout,” he said.

“Australia is a proud vaccination nation, and we are doing so well compared to most other countries around the world when it comes to COVID-19 vaccinations. So, I encourage all those eligible to jump aboard and receive their second booster, particularly people over the age of 50. Together we can reduce COVID-19 case numbers and help keep each other safe.

“There has never been a more important time to fight complacency and tackle this virus head on. Winter is here and there is high community transmission of not only COVID-19, but also the flu and other viruses including respiratory syncytial virus or RSV. Our entire health system, including our hospitals, are groaning under the pressure of helping people in need. It’s essential that we all play our part and do everything we can to protect ourselves and our broader community, including people particularly vulnerable to severe effects from COVID-19 such as older patients or those with serious underlying conditions.

“By getting your second booster you can also reduce your risk of ending up in a hospital bed and help relieve pressure on the entire health system. So, please step forward to receive your second booster but at the same time be patient and respectful of general practice staff including receptionists answering the phone. They may not be able to accommodate you straight away so I urge everyone to be reasonable and respectful; we will get these jabs in arms as soon as we can, but GPs and general practice teams are only human and can’t perform miracles.”

Dr Willett also warned that GPs and general practice teams need greater support.

“GPs and general practice teams on the frontline fighting this virus urgently need a helping hand,” he said.

“The pandemic is not over, and we are battle weary. Practices are seriously under the pump delivering COVID-19 vaccines, influenza vaccines, managing our day-to-day patient case load including helping those who delayed screenings or consultations during the pandemic and assisting patients with mental health issues. It isn’t getting any easier and many general practice teams are understandably exhausted.

“As the backbone of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout we will play a prominent role delivering these second boosters, but we are under enormous pressure and need all the help we can get from government. We have a new federal Government and a new opportunity to ensure this next stage of the vaccine rollout is as trouble-free as possible. It would be disappointing to hear reports emerging again of insufficient communication with general practice or of doses not arriving on time or insufficient stock being delivered.

“I also remind the Government that practices are still very much struggling to absorb the cost of taking part in the rollout. We did not sign up to make money but at the end of the day they must make ends meet and that is proving very difficult. The scale of the task, including with this latest expansion, has only increased, and we need the federal Government to step up and provide greater assistance to our hardworking general practice teams. That will enable us to run more after-hours and weekend vaccinations and speed up the pace of the rollout at a critical time in the middle of winter.

“GPs and general practice teams will carry on and get the job done once again. I urge the new Government to get behind us, because we need more support and that needs to happen right now.”

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