More than 4,500 accredited general practices will participate in the next phase of Australia’s rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, and people can now check when they are eligible to get jabbed.
More than 1,000 GPs will start vaccinating from Monday, March 22, and Phase 1b of the program will rapidly scale up to more practices over the next four weeks.
Phase 1b of the rollout includes vulnerable populations, such as older people and people with certain underlying conditions.
As of Monday this week, people can check their vaccine eligibility and their closest participating general practice in the federal government’s Vaccine Eligibility Checker online at covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au.
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) president Dr Karen Price said general practices were gearing up for the job ahead, and reassured those thinking about getting the vaccine, which is free and voluntary.
“It’s important to remember we are still in the early phases of the rollout – this is a careful and methodical process, with the most vulnerable patients first up to receive the vaccine,” she said.
“However, we know patients who aren’t in those groups are wondering about what will happen when their time comes.
“Many patients naturally want to get the vaccine from their usual GP, it makes sense, and we encourage this where possible.
“However, it may not always be possible, as not all practices will be participating.
“I encourage patients who have questions or concerns to call their GP, we are here to help. And please be understanding and remember that there is high demand for the vaccine.”
Dr Price said general practices provided a safe environment for vaccination.
“This is what GPs do,” she said. “GPs can draw on patient history, we have the medical training and facilities required, and we can talk to patients who have questions or concerns.
“I have every confidence in Australia’s GPs at this crucial moment in history.
“We are ready, we are gearing up, and we will be doing everything in our power to deliver a safe and fast rollout for our patients.”
Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt said the federal government was committed to bringing on board all eligible practices as quickly as possible, with vaccination start dates set to be staggered and dosage allocation to be dependent on vaccine availability.
For more information about the COVID-19 vaccines in Australia, head to health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines.