COVID-19 Booster Program
In a recent letter to the Minister for Health and Aged Care, the AMA President, Dr Omar Khorshid, warned that current funding arrangements for GPs providing COVID-19 booster shots are inadequate.
He advised, it fails to recognise the work required and the cost to practices of participation in a mass vaccination program, including infrastructure, staffing costs, and no shows.
Unless adequate funding is provided, there is a significant danger that general practices will not be able to invest the time and effort required to follow up patients or run clinics at the same scale and frequency that we have seen so far during this pandemic. Utilising practice staff to call each patient is costly and diverts them away from other critical roles. Running large clinics involves extra costs due to staffing and infrastructure requirements and, with so many points of presence nowadays, the high likelihood that a considerable proportion of patients will cancel or not attend.
Dr Khorshid encouraged the Minister to revisit the funding of COVID-19 booster shots to support GPs with the roll out of the booster program. The pandemic is not over and unless the community is encouraged and supported to embrace boosters in the same way as earlier primary doses, then overseas experience suggests that it will not be too long before we see infections rise, the load on the health system increase and governments having to reinstate stronger public health measures to combat this.