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 Wednesday 21 April 2021, 1.45 pm AEST.
Recent updates include:

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On 8 April 2021 the Federal Department of Health announced changes to the vaccine rollout including a preference the for the use of the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine in adults aged under 50 years.

This follows advice from Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in light of evolving evidence of a rare but serious side effect involving thrombosis with thrombocytopenia following receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

 ATAGI has further recommended that:
  • COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca can be used in adults aged under 50 years where the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits. 
  • People who have had the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse effects can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years.
The Department of Health (DoH) has published guidance on weighing the potential benefits against the risk of harm from the AstraZeneca vaccine to help patients make informed decisions, along with the AstraZeneca vaccine and the COVID-19 vaccination program – Patient information fact sheet.

Please read the update from the Chief Medical Officer to COVID-19 vaccine delivery providers. The Department of Health have also developed an Information sheet for Immunisation Providers on Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) following COVID-19 vaccination, along with scripts for general practices to assist in answering questions your patients may have about the changes, and how it may impact them

You can also read the ATAGI statement on AstraZeneca vaccine in response to new vaccine safety concerns which outlines the rationale for the advice given.
 


The Australian Government has announced that COVID-19 vaccination eligibility has been expanded, and will be available and free for all people living in Australia, including:

  • all Medicare-eligible Australians
  • all visa-holders, including refugees, asylum seekers, temporary protection visa holders, and those on bridging visas
  • people currently residing in detention facilities, including those whose visas have been cancelled. 
Due to the current funding model, people who are not eligible for Medicare will be unable to receive the vaccine through a general practice clinic. These people can receive the vaccine from a GP-led Respiratory Clinic or a state/territory vaccination clinic. 


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

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

 
Phase:   Eligible populations
1a
Underway 
  • Quarantine and border workers
  • Frontline healthcare worker sub-groups for prioritisation
  • Aged care and disability care staff
  • Aged care and disability care residents
1b
Underway
See eligibility criteria


 
  • 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

 

See the Department of Health webpage: How COVID-19 vaccines will be distributed

Onboarding

The Australian Government Department of Health (DoH) sought expressions of interest (EOI) from accredited general practices to take part in the planned delivery of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine from phase 1b. 

More than 4500 practices that expressed an interest in participating in the vaccine rollout have been approved. Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout commenced the week of 22 March 2021. All participating general practices will be onboarded over a four-week period, alongside GP-led respiratory clinics and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services.

If your practice is approved to participate in the vaccine rollout you should have now received an onboarding letter and pack. As well as telling you which week your practice will start vaccinating, the pack includes information and guidance on:

  • registering your practice through the Online Vaccine Management Portal
  • ordering vaccine stock and consumables
  • reporting requirements
  • preparing to receive your initial vaccine doses.

If you have not received your onboarding letter and pack or if you want to delay or withdraw your participation, contact your Primary Health Network immediately.

Your practice should also receive a COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Communication Kit from the DoH. The kit contains resources designed to support patient communications efforts during phase 1b, along with subsequent vaccine rollout phases. It is not compulsory for your practice to use the resources provided within the kit, however, their use will support compliance with the TGA advertising act.


Ordering stock and consumables

Vaccine stock and consumables can be ordered through the online portal

If you're having issues with ordering or delivery of vaccines and consumables, contact the Vaccine Operations Centre hotline on 1800 318 208 or email COVID19VaccineOperationsCentre@Health.gov.au
 

Funding for vaccinations in general practice

Funding for administration of the vaccines in general practice will be provided on a fee for service basis via the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS). 

The RACGP has prepared an overview of the new MBS items to assess patients for their suitability to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Visit this RACGP webpage for full item descriptors and rebates. 

 

COVID-19 vaccination training program

As part of the rollout, authorised vaccine providers will need to complete mandatory COVID-19 vaccination training. Training will also be available for non-clinical and administration staff.

The RACGP is working with the DoH to ensure that GPs who complete the training will receive 10 CPD points.

If you are experiencing technical issues with the training modules, please use the chat function (Available Monday - Friday, 8.00 am - 6.00 pm (AEST)) or contact COVID19VaccinationTraining@Health.gov.au

 


Advertising the vaccine at your practice

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have reiterated that there are rules you must follow if you are advertising COVID-19 vaccines at your clinic. 

You can You can not
  • use Australian Government produced materials to promote COVID-19 vaccines
  • use materials produced by Australian state or territory governments to promote COVID-19 vaccines
  • provide factual information to assist the public in obtaining the vaccine such as:
    • the location of the COVID-19 vaccination service
    • times vaccines are administered or opening hours of the service provider
    • whether there is a need for an appointment to receive the vaccination and how to make one
  • use self-developed advertising about COVID-19 vaccines
 
Acceptable  Not acceptable 

Facebook post

Downtown Medical Centre

You can now get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Downtown Medical Centre. Available Monday to Friday from 9am - 9pm.
Call 9999 9999 for an appointment.


(Could also include Australian Government social media tile showing the vaccine is free)

Facebook post (all content self developed)

Downtown Medical Centre

A COVID-19 vaccine is the best way to protect you and your family from falling seriously ill!

You can now get your COVID-19 vaccination at the Downtown Medical Centre. Available Monday to Friday from 9am - 9pm. Just walk-in and enjoy a free cappuccino while you wait.

Video of patient receiving a vaccine and saying "Wow that didn't hurt at all!".


These restrictions on advertising do not extend to information exchanged between you and and your patients during clinical consultations. 
Find more information on the TGA website

See the DoHs latest update (25 March 2021) for participating practices as well as COVID-19 vaccine FAQs for providers which includes the most recent advice from ATAGI surrounding eligibility, clinical considerations, communications, online systems training and more. 
 


The Department of Health (DoH) have released a collection of resources for health professionals containing advice and guidance on delivering COVID-19 vaccinations. 

Also see the 'How can I share COVID-19 vaccine information with my patients?' section of this website for resources written for consumers, including decision support guides.

Key resources include:
Resources for specific patient groups:


Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) resources include:


Thrombosis and Haemostasis Society of Australia and New Zealand (THANZ):
The DoH have also released a consent form for COVID-19 vaccination (UPDATED 10 April 2021). While it is not mandatory to obtain written consent, practices will need a way to ensure patients have the relevant information prior to receiving the vaccine and document informed consent. Practices may choose to use the consent form developed by the DoH. 


If your patients are asking when and where they can access the vaccine, you can direct them to the online Vaccine Eligibility Checker or use the checker on their behalf. 

Patients answer questions about their age, location, job and health to gauge when they’ll be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.  

If your practice isn’t dispensing the vaccine, patients can find a provider through the Vaccine Clinic Finder linked from the eligibility checker. Participating GP-led respiratory clinics are now listed on the clinic finder and more general practices will be added over the coming days and weeks as they receive their initial vaccine supply.  


To help inform your patients you can print out this flyer and display in your practice. 

You can also use wording and social media tiles provided within the COVID-19 Vaccine Provider Communication Kit for General Practices to advise patients that your practice is an approved COVID-19 vaccination provider.
 


Patients can access information on COVID-19 vaccines and the vaccine roll-out via the Department of Health (DoH) COVID-19 vaccine website. This is website is updated regularly as new information becomes available.

About the vaccines:

Receiving the vaccine: Information for specific patient groups: Easy read fact sheets are also available. 
 

​Supporting culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities

The DoH COVID-19 vaccine website has information available in 63 languages. To access information in a language other than English, select ‘Information in your language’ within the blue header.

The DoH has also developed and translated a number of resources that you can display in your practice, share on social media, play in the waiting room or provide in printed form for your patients.

 


COVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Vaccination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will take place across Phase 1b and 2a of the Australian Government’s vaccine rollout strategy. A comprehensive vaccine implementation plan has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19, and with state and territory governments. You can access the plan online.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be able to access the vaccine in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and in all other practices where the vaccine is available.  


Information about COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People
new resource has been jointly prepared by National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) to help you answer some questions we’ve frequently heard from community.  


You can support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to receive the vaccine by:  


You can support the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients by:  

  • ensuring your practice is welcoming and inclusive (see Step 1: Providing effective, culturally safe healthcare on the NACCHO/RACGP Resource Hub for advice) 

  • encouraging all practice staff to do cultural awareness training (offered free of charge to RACGP members and for a nominal fee for other practice staff via gplearning).     


Other resources include the Department of Health's


Each of the major medical defence organisations has released information addressing professional indemnity coverage for members providing COVID-19 vaccinations. If you are insured by another provider, contact that company directly regarding your coverage.

In summary, if you hold a professional indemnity policy and your scope of practice includes prescribing or administering vaccines, you will be covered in a similar way to other vaccination programs in the event of an adverse reaction following vaccination.

National webinars

Webinar Date Time Host Registration
General Practice COVID-19 update Every Thursday  11.30 am - 12.30 pm (AEST) Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health View upcoming and previous webinars
PHN led webinars  Varied Varied Your local PHN Visit your PHNs webpage


Department of Health (DoH) resources

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

Therapeutic Goods Administration resources