The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) welcomes today’s approval of the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine by the medical regulator, paving the way for the roll-out to patients via general practice.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been granted provisional approval by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for adults aged 18 and over. The regulator said the decision to immunise those aged over 65 should be made on a case-by-case basis.
President Dr Karen Price said general practice stood ready and able to support the vaccine roll-out.
“Today’s announcement is a welcome milestone in the vaccine roll-out, and protection of our community. Most Australians will get the AstraZeneca vaccine, and many will naturally want to be vaccinated by their usual GP,” said Dr Price.
“GPs across the country overwhelmingly want to vaccinate their patients. There was a huge response to the Department of Health’s expression of interest with over 5000 practices applying to be a vaccination clinic.
“Initially, not all practices will be able to be involved in the vaccination program, but eventually the expectation is that it will be rolled out more widely, and more practices will become involved as supply increases. For now while we are in Phase 1, it’s critical that we can vaccinate as many of the highly vulnerable people as efficiently as possible. The logistics of later phases will be addressed as the rollout progresses.
“We know there will be high demand for the vaccine, and I urge everyone to please be patient and understanding.
“We ultimately would like to see every practice that wants to provide these vaccinations to be able to do so. We need to get to the stage where COVID-19 vaccinations are part of usual patient care as soon as possible – especially if we want to finish this job by October, as the Government has said they want to.
The RACGP President said the RACGP was continuing to work closely with Government on the roll-out.
“This is an enormous task and it’s critical to get it right – we need high immunisation rates to protect Australians from the COVID-19 virus,” said Dr Price.
“General practice is well positioned for this job, and with the right support and focus we can deliver a safe and fast roll-out.
“There are GPs living and working in communities right across our country, in cities, rural towns and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.
“General practices provide a safe environment for vaccination, GPs can draw on a patient history and are equipped with the necessary medical training and facilities to manage any rare adverse reactions.
“GPs can answer their patient’s questions and concerns – we are perfectly placed to increase vaccine confidence and uptake. This is especially true for GPs who engage with culturally and linguistically diverse communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.”
The RACGP is providing information and resources on the vaccine to support GPs and patients. The information is available on the RACGP website here.