More than 1000 general practices will join the COVID-19 vaccination program from next week, even as doctors raise concerns they’re not getting enough doses.
A website revealing the locations of the GP clinics administering the vaccines will be launched today — a number of which will be in WA
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has admitted the flow of COVID-19 vaccines may not be what the government had wanted but supply is increasing.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said GPs will come online from March 22 and increase to more than 4000 by the end of April as part the next phase of the vaccine rollout to priority groups in the broader population.
“There will be six million Australians in Phase 1b, and not all will be able to be vaccinated immediately,” he said.
Some community pharmacists will also participate in the program as the government comes under fire for a slow rollout.
“No-one will miss out, whether they live in a city or country town or a very remote area,” Mr Hunt said.
“This staged scale up will align with the supply of the locally produced AstraZeneca vaccine, and as more vaccine becomes available more services will come online.”
The government initially suggested four million vaccinations would be achieved by the end of March.
However the figure stood at 200,000 on Tuesday.
Taken to task by Labor leader Anthony Albanese for over-promising and under-delivering, Mr Morrison told parliament of the 3.8 million vaccine doses contracted from overseas, only 700,000 were able to be provided “because of the desperately serious situation that we find in Europe”.
The prime minister has promised all Australians will get a first dose by the end of October.
Australian-made AstraZeneca vaccines are soon expected to start coming off biotech CSL’s Melbourne production line for distribution.
The firm’s aim is for one million doses to produced each week and they’re in talks with the government to up the pace.
Labor and GPs are concerned the national system to be used for booking shots is not yet operational.
“This is utterly remarkable and irresponsible,” Labor’s health spokesman Mark Butler said.
“They are being inundated by phone calls to their receptionist asking whether their patients can book with them and they’re not able to provide any information whatsoever.”
Mr Hunt said people can find a vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service at the Department of Health website.
This will enable people to locate their nearest option and link through to the practice’s online booking system or phone number to make the appointment.
The next phase of vaccinations will involve people aged over 70, healthcare workers, Indigenous adults, adults with specified medical conditions and a range of critical workers including defence, police, fire and emergency workers and meat processors.
Meanwhile, medical experts and the medicines regulator are standing by the AstraZeneca jab as safe and effective despite concerns raised in Europe about blood clotting.