The Australian Medical Association and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners have worked collaboratively with Health Minister Greg Hunt over the past weeks to ensure the vaccine rollout is delivered with patient safety as the first priority.
We welcome today’s announcement from Minister Hunt of the rollout arrangements and the call for expressions of interest from General Practices to take part in one of the greatest mass medical undertakings in Australia. This will ensure the vaccine is delivered efficiently and safely to patients.
This is an important moment for the Australian community. We have gone from no coronavirus vaccine a year ago to several vaccines, with the first expected to be rolled out next month.
GPs are ready to help vaccinate and protect the community from COVID-19 as soon as vaccines are fully approved for use in Australia, and available for delivery.
Vaccinations are an important opportunity to discuss other health concerns with your GP. This is particularly important at a time when many people have deferred health care due to the pandemic.
It is also critical that accurate records are kept of all vaccinations delivered.
This the first phase of Australia’s vaccine strategy. The approved vaccines will prevent severe illness, hospitalisations and deaths from COVID-19 and will have met stringent regulatory requirements.
As more data are gathered, their role in preventing infection and transmission will become clearer.
In the meantime, it is important that vaccine recipients understand that measures that have held us in good stead to date, such social distancing, hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and mask wearing (where required), must be maintained.
This is just the beginning. Now the hard work begins to manage the logistical challenges of the biggest public health undertaking in Australian history.
The AMA and the RACGP have worked hard to ensure that considerations including rurality, after hours access, the increased complexity of the vaccine and equipment supplies have been taken into account.
We are working with the Government on information and consent forms to ensure that anyone receiving a vaccine gives their full, informed consent first.
It is critical that all Australians have trust in the COVID vaccine rollout, and understand what it means for them and the people around them.
We encourage all general practices to become involved in the rollout. An expression of interest form is expected to be issued this week.
GPs can show the Australian community that we can do it, and this is an important step forward in overcoming this pandemic.