Primary care: AGPA rep’s latest

Update from Dr Maria Boulton, AGPA Representative, Primary Care Implementation Group (PCIG) for Week Ending 5 march 2021

Primary Health Care COVID-19 Response Teleconference 3 March 2021.

[Web Team’s Key point: Roll-out to be done in a large number of places with smaller numbers of doses in each rather than a smaller number of places with large numbers of doses as recommended by AGPA in January (https://australiangpalliance.com.au/2021/01/30/inadequate-government-funding-will-slow-delivery-of-covid-19-vaccinations/) because this mirrors the nature of primary care in Australia.]

  • It will be compulsory to upload flu vaccination to AIR from 1st of March 2021. Other vaccines from 1st of July 2021. 
  • 50,000 people have received COVID vaccines as of 3 March 2021
  • All eligible practices (more than 4,000) will be given the option to be online within 4 weeks of the start of the rollout of primary care (1b) involvement (start of the week of the 22nd of March), 
    • Due to the large volume of eligible practices there will be low stocks of vaccines (from 50 to 400) available for each site initially until supply increases.
  • Eligible practices will receive letters (onboarding packs) tomorrow (March 6) through the PHNs confirming
    •  which week they will join the roll out eg week 1 to 4,
    •  instructions on stock ordering, 
    • FAQs, 
    • dimensions of the box of the vials
  • People without Medicare cards will be vaccinated at the state hubs and respiratory clinics
  • More details will be provided as to what underlying medical conditions are covered in 1b
    • This information is coming from Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI)
  • 50,000 people have enrolled for the online COVID vaccine training. 
    • 4,000 medical practitioners and 13,000 nurses have completed the course to date. 
  • There are no other MBS items for the COVID vaccine rollout, it is limited to what is out already
    • There will be no contract with Practices, the MBS arrangements will cover the roll out. 
  • The taskforce need to be made aware of any situations where GPs are being refused vaccinations even though they are eligible. 
    • Some hubs are prioritising eg RACF residents before staff, and border staff before other Health Care Workers due to lack of supply. 
  • The consent form is not compulsory. In fact the consent can be verbal, provide it is documented. 
    • Consent form for Astra Zeneca vaccine is being finalised.  

Other communication from the Dept. of Health 4 March 2021

  • GPs will need to ‘set aside’ bookings for second dose (or encourage patients to book both doses at the same time) but stock will be providing as required on a weekly or fortnightly basis. 
    • The government will maintain a second dose contingency and practices are encouraged to use all available doses in the premises as quickly as possible. IE. no need for GPs to keep stock aside for a second dose. 
  • GP clinics cannot exclude eligible patients and restrict access to their own patients only, however, GP practices are allowed to (and encouraged to) to proactively identify their vulnerable cohorts in their patient population and offer the vaccine in line with government advice.

Awaiting clarification:

  • Consumables and PPE supply, we are advocating for the Dept of Health to provide these to GP clinics 
    • GP clinics may be supplied with needles or syringes, details to be confirmed.

Issues Maria has been personally been tackling and has had some traction on:

  • GPs working in respiratory clinics at the Gold Coast and Brisbane were getting knocked back by the Health and Humans Services even though they qualify for 1a.
    •  Maria raised the issue with A/Prof Michael Kidd and Dr Lucas de Toca who then communicated with the separate jurisdictions that GPs that are eligible should not be turned back. 
    • Some of these GPs have received an invite to receive their COVID vaccine now. However if you are a GP that has been knocked back and you are eligible you need to notify the Department where you are and which hub has turned you away. 
  • All consumables to be supplied with vaccines. [Update from AGPA web team: see next post showing that Maria’s work has born fruit with the Government now agreeing that the consumables will be provided]

These comments are from Maria’s notes and records of the meeting, which may not be complete.   

Information is being updated quickly so it is important for GPs to use their own information gathering to try to keep up to date with developments.   

Other Information Sources 

Department of Health FAQs:

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-phase-1b-covid-19-vaccine-rollout-general-practice-eoi-process-frequently-asked-questions-version-2

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