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“Perfect storm” AMA calls for fair funding for GPs for urgent booster rollout

The AMA says we are falling behind the booster rollout and by the end of this month close to four million people will be eligible for the booster.

AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid and Vice President Dr Chris Moy were prominent in the media this week calling for fair funding for GPs to deliver the booster rollout – which has become urgent with the highly infectious Omicron variant taking hold in the country. 

As a result of evidence showing a booster shot is needed for best immunity against Omicron, ATAGI said on Sunday Australians should have their booster shots five months after their second vaccination. 

Dr Khorshid said in a widely reported press conference on Wednesday, the AMA had written to the Federal Government “significantly concerned” with the pace of the booster program rollout and the level of support being provided to general practitioners and pharmacists.

Dr Khorshid said it was clear Omicron was a significant threat and said the amount of money the Federal Government was paying general practitioners and pharmacists for booster doses was significantly less than for the first two doses.

He said it was “very difficult to understand” when it was such a national priority to get every Australian boosted to protect them from Omicron and also from Delta.

“The Government needs to demonstrate its commitment to the booster program by upping that fee to make sure that GPs and pharmacists are able to make the investments they need to employ the staff, to set up extra clinics in the evenings, on weekends, and so on,” he said. 

In an interview on the ABC’s Afternoon Briefing program Dr Khorshid told presenter Patricia Karvelas the 5-to-11-year vaccination rollout was also due to begin in January, putting extra pressure on the primary care sector. 

Dr Chris Moy told ABC Breakfast News yesterday morning, state-based vaccination hubs, which are winding down to get health staff back to the front line, needed to stay open. 

He said GPs were contacting him telling him they couldn’t keep going after such an exhausting year and with the losses they were incurring. He said administering the COVID-19 vaccinations were a lot more complex than administering flu shots.

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