Hundreds more GPs to join vaccine rollout

The number of general practices involved in the national coronavirus vaccine rollout is expected to double to 3000 by the end of this week.

Apr 05, 2021, updated Apr 05, 2021
Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt. (AAP Image/Dean Lewins)

The number of clinics involved will double from 1500 to 3000 by the end of this week, following criticism the program is moving far slower than planned.

Health Minister Greg Hunt has blamed the sluggish start on international supply chain issues but is confident the rollout will speed up now that locally made doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine are rolling off production lines.

Almost 842,000 doses have been administered since the program started more than a month ago.

A national record of 79,000 injections were given on Thursday, ahead of the long weekend.

But the government is still a long way short of its promise to vaccinate four million people by April.

Hunt has avoided putting a time frame on when the first two phases of the vaccination program, focusing on frontline health workers and older Australians, would be competed.

Labor’s health spokesman Mark Butler said that was not good enough.

“Australians deserve to know when they will get their vaccine and until we’ve completed these early phases, the other phases will simply not be able to commence,” he said.

Butler said the federal government’s failures were most clear in the slow pace of vaccinating aged care residents and workers.

“The states have made very good progress in vaccinating their own frontline health workers and others within their jurisdiction,” he said.

“But the Commonwealth has made a mess of its responsibilities to vaccinate the most vulnerable people in our community, residents of aged care facilities, and the hundreds of thousands of people who work so hard caring for them.”

Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud has gone from blaming the states for the pace of the vaccine rollout to blaming the European Union for blocking supply.

Mr Littleproud argued Australia had been “badly let down” by the EU.

“This is the biggest vaccination program our country has ever seen and it’s important we understand what’s happening with it,” he told Nine on Monday.

“The arithmetic is simple on this. We are three million short because of the EU, who cut us short.”

As Australia edges towards one million vaccinations, the federal government is seeking to reassure the public about the safety of the AstraZeneca jab.

Health authorities are investigating after a 44-year-old Melbourne man developed blood clots about a fortnight after receiving his vaccination.

Authorities say it is likely the two events are linked but insist the AstraZeneca vaccine is still safe to use.

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Hunt said the vaccine had been put through rigorous testing, and checks and balances were in place to ensure all batches were up to scratch.

He said people susceptible to blood clots should consult their doctor before receiving a vaccine, but there was no impediment for the broader community.

Meanwhile, doctors are urging people to be vigilant about the potential spread of coronavirus as winter approaches.

Chris Moye from the Australian Medical Association warned of European nations who eased controls too soon and were forced to respond to second and third waves of infections.

A man infected with the South African strain of the virus is in a critical condition in the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

“This is an important reminder that COVID is not over,” Moye told ABC radio.

“We’ve got to continue to do the right thing and we’ve got to get on with the vaccination of the community because this puts into perspective the risk is still there, particularly with winter coming.”

Queensland recorded four new COVID-19 cases overnight, all of them returning travellers from overseas, with no cases of community transmission detected from 7500 people tested.

“That means there is no further community transmission which is fantastic news,” Deputy Premier Steven Miles said.

“It underlines how it is better to have to lockdown for three days than for three months.”


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