COVID-19 vaccine information for GPs


General practice is part of the Australian COVID-19 vaccination policy and the RACGP will provide information to support our members during the vaccine roll out. This page will be updated with the latest information and resources as they become available.

Information on this page was last updated on Friday 22 January 2021, 5.00 pm AEDT.
Recent updates include:

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The COVID-19 vaccination will be free for:

  • all Medicare-eligible Australians
  • all visa-holders, excluding visa sub-classes 771 (Transit), 600 (Tourist stream), 651 (eVisitor) and 601 (Electronic Travel Authority).

While the Australian Government strongly supports immunisation it is not mandatory and individuals may choose not to vaccinate.


Subject to approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), vaccine administration is currently due to commence in mid February 2021 using a phase approach, initially targetting high priority groups. 

GPs have been identified as being eligible to receive the vaccine as part of phase 1b. GPs working in COVID-19 respiratory clinics and those working in high risk COVID-19 environments will be eligible as part of phase 1a. 


Australia's Epidemiology and COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap outlines the phases of administration as being:

 
Phase:   Eligible populations
1a
  • Quarantine and border workers
  • Frontline healthcare worker sub-groups for prioritisation
  • Aged care and disability care staff
  • Aged care and disability care residents
1b
  • Elderly adults aged 80 years and over
  • Elderly adults aged 70-79 years
  • Other health care workers
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people > 55
  • Younger adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability
  • Critical and high risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing
2a
  • Adults aged 60-69 years
  • Adults aged 50-59 years
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 18- 54
  • Other critical and high risk workers
2b
  • Balance of adult population
3
  • <18 year olds if recommended


Vaccination locations

Vaccination locations will be established across metropolitan, regional, rural and remote Australia.

Around 30-50 locations will be established as ongoing 'Hospital Hubs' in urban and rural Australia. The sites of these are being finalised in conjunction with States and Territories. They will manage cold chain storage and Pfizer vaccine only and will provide a distribution hub for hospital, quarantine and border staff and residential aged care and disability residents and staff.

A further 1000+ locations will manage and distribute the AstraZeneca vaccine. These sites will include GP Respiratory clinics, general practices, state/territory vaccination clinics and Aboriginal Controlled Health Organisation clinics. These locations will be determined via an expression of interest process which will be open shortly. 

Expressions of interest for general practices to administer the COVID-19 vaccine 

The Australian Government is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from all accredited general practices to take part in the planned delivery of the AstraZeneca/University of Oxford COVID-19 vaccine once approved by the TGA.

General practices will initially administer the vaccine to identified priority groups as part of phase 1b including people over 70, adults with underlying medical conditions and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 55. Further phases will follow as per Australia's COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy

Expressions of interest are open from 9.00 am AEDT, Saturday 23 January 2021 and close at 11.59 pm AWST on Monday 1 February 2021 and are to be submitted by online form

Further information on the EOI process and the requirements for interested practices is available on the Department of Health website
 

 

Funding for general practice

Funding for GPs to administer vaccines will be provided on a fee for service basis via the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). A $10 Practice Incentive Payment (PIP) will apply where an individual receives both doses of the vaccine at the same practice. Details of 18 new vaccine specific MBS items are outlined on page four of the EOI information document



Survey: COVID-19 vaccine roll-out in general practice 

The RACGP is seeking your feedback to gauge general practice readiness and interest in delivering the COVID-19 vaccine and to find out areas where practices require support and education, in addition to any mandatory training provided by the government.  

The survey will take 1 - 5 minutes and all responses are anonymous. It will close at 11.59 pm AEDT on Sunday 31 January 2021. 

Complete the survey


The Australian Government has secured agreements for three COVID-19 vaccines with administration subject to approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). 

The TGA rigorously assesses vaccines for safety, quality and efficacy before they can be used in Australia. The TGA is working with international counterparts, monitoring information on vaccine clinical trials, manufacturing and safety. This will ensure a safe and fast regulatory process for the COVID-19 vaccine in Australia.

The TGA will continue to monitor COVID-19 vaccines for safety, after they are supplied in Australia, through ongoing safety monitoring. The TGA will receive adverse event reporting and if it suspected there is an issue with a vaccine an investigation will be undertaken which may include suspending the use of the vaccine under investigation.


Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine

Further information

If the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, and is approved for use, it will be available from early 2021. This vaccine is currently being rolled out across the United Kingdom (UK), european Union (EU) and and the United States of America (USA).

Administration

2 doses will be required approximately one month apart

Side effects

In the trials, the vaccine was generally well-tolerated, and an independent data monitoring committee reported no serious safety concerns. The worst side effects were fatigue and headaches after the second dose. Around four per cent of people reported fatigue and two per cent a headache. Other side effects were pain at the injection site and myalgia.

With the roll out of the vaccine in the UK, there have been reports of two people with a history of allergies who have had serious adverse reactions to the vaccine. These are being investigated to determine causality.

Storage

For long-term storage (approximately six months) the vaccine must be kept at -70° C, which requires specialist cooling equipment. Pfizer has a distribution container that keeps the vaccine at that temperature for 10 days if unopened. These containers can be used for temporary storage in a vaccination facility for up to 30 days if they are replenished with dry ice every five days. Once thawed, the vaccine can be stored at 2°C to 8°C for up to five days.

General comments

It is still unclear if the vaccine provides immunity for the disease as well as preventing infection.

In the UK, roll out to pregnant women and children is not included due to lack of testing in these groups.

Early data has been provided to the TGA and there be will be an application for provisional approval for use in Australia.

The 10 million doses secured by Australia will be manufactured in the United States of America, Belgium and Germany.


University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine

Further information

If the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, and is approved for use, it will be available from early 2021.

Administration

Based on current trials it is likely two doses will be required approximately one month apart

Side effects

Side effects have been reported as minimal, however, there appears to be limited information on what these side effects are

Storage

The vaccine can be stored at temperatures between 2°C to 8°C

General comments

Early trials suggest the vaccine may prevent asymptomatic infection, however, more research is required before this can be verified.

Australia has secured the delivery of 3.8 million doses in early 2021 and 30 million doses will be manufactured in Australia by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL).


Novavax vaccine

Further information

If the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, and is approved for use, it will be available in the first half of 2021.

Phase 3 trials commenced in November 2020 in the UK, with interim data from the trial expected in the first quarter of 2021.

 

Department of Health (DoH)

You can now subscribe to receive the DoH 'COVID-vaccine updates' direct to your inbox.
 

Therapeutic Goods Administration