Big problem with getting your COVID-19 vaccine


Exclusive: Australian GPs desperate to be part of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout have called for more of them to be approved to deliver the jab, with currently about 1000 practices to be given accreditation.

The Australian Medical Association is also pleading with the Federal Government to simplify the process to make it easier for the elderly and disabled to be given the jab by their own doctor.

Despite more than 5400 medical practices across the country applying to take part,

nearly four in five will not have government approval to deliver vaccine when it begins being rolled out to the wider community in two weeks.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA) fears restricting which GPs can deliver the vaccine will unnecessarily complicate the vaccination program forcing frail elderly people to visit someone who is not their regular GP to get vaccinated.

"If we're going to have any chance of reaching the October time frames that the Prime Minister has mentioned then we've got to get every GP practice in the country involved in this rollout," AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid told News Corp Australia.

He said one problem with the current plan was it would be up to individuals to understand which phase of the rollout was underway, whether they were eligible and they would have to take the initiative to make an appointment for a vaccine.

It may have been simpler to have GP practices co-ordinate the rollout by contacting their patients and encouraging them to have a jab, Dr Khorshid said.

Frontline workers, people aged over 80 and those with major health problems eligible for early doses of the vaccine will also have to secure employer letters, birth certificate or letters from their regular doctors to prove to unfamiliar medicos they are eligible for the jab.

"We know there will be high demand for the vaccine, and I urge everyone to please be patient and understanding," Royal Australian College of General Practice president Dr Karen Price said.

"We ultimately would like to see every practice that wants to provide these vaccinations to be able to do so."

Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid. Picture: supplied
Australian Medical Association president Dr Omar Khorshid. Picture: supplied

The operation of the government's promised national vaccination appointment booking system also remains under a cloud weeks before the wider community rollout is due to begin.

"GPS can't be sitting down with a patient, filling in complex forms, designed by bureaucrats in Canberra, if they've only got a few minutes in which to do the vaccine before the next patient comes in," Dr Khorshid said.

And he warned the Federal Government's promised national vaccine booking system has also hit problems, with no single number for people to call to book their appointments to be vaccinated.

"The patients will look up where they can go and then will make a booking in the normal way for that practice that could be online, it could be ringing up on the telephone, it could be using a generalised online booking service like health direct or hot doc or one of those," Dr Khorshid said.

"I think if this rollout fails or is delayed due to these logistic challenges I think fingers will be pointed at health department and federal government," he said.


More than 5400 medical practices across the country have applied to take part in Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Picture: Che Chorley
More than 5400 medical practices across the country have applied to take part in Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Picture: Che Chorley


It comes as a NSW security company took to social media on Tuesday to recruit 60 new concierge and administration staff to assist in the vaccination rollout in aged care facilities.

DE Security is advertising the jobs on social media just five days before the rollout starts, raising questions about the adequate training of the staff who will have to deal with very frail elderly aged care residents.

The aged care rollout is the Federal Government's responsibility.

DE Security's NSW Manager Eddie Elattar said the advertisements was "speculative only; posted in error by one of my staff members without authorisation".

"In light of the COVID quarantine debacle where private security contractors were scrutinised for their inability to provide suitably qualified staff; we are hoping to take some initiative by assembling a job ready team of personnel should security services be required by the Commonwealth, the State, or any approved agencies during the COVID vaccine rollout," he said.

"I would like to reiterate that we have not been engaged by anyone and are not aware of any exact opportunities," he said.



Meanwhile, in Tasmania doctors are still in the dark about the names of the 14 aged care facilities where the vaccine will be rolled out on Monday and there are questions over the medico legal consent process for the vaccinations.

Primary Health Tasmania has sent an email to GPs warning five days before the rollout begins "currently there are still unanswered questions about the consent process".

"You may be contacted by a residential aged care facility with an urgent request for a resident consent. Due to the rapid nature of the rollout, could you please assist where you can. We acknowledge this is not ideal but the rollout is due to commence next week and facilities will be under an extraordinary amount of pressure to organise consent."


Originally published as Big problem with getting your COVID-19 vaccine