Thousands of general practices will receive triple the amount of COVID-19 vaccine doses from next week as the government continues to ramp up the vaccination program.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the increase in doses to doctors would provide more capacity as vaccination becomes available for those over 50.
More than 4000 general practices will start receiving more doses of AstraZeneca from next week.Credit:Getty
“It will ensure that we have supplies around the country as we see more and more over-50s coming in,” he said on Wednesday afternoon.
It boosts the number of AstraZeneca doses distributed from 330,000 this week to 450,000 next week, and 600,000 the week after that.
The country’s vaccination rollout was overhauled after the country’s expert medical group advised Pfizer should be the preferred vaccine for those aged under 50.
The Commonwealth ordered a further 20 million doses of that vaccine and brought forward phase 2a of the rollout so more people aged over 50 could start receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine being manufactured in Victoria by CSL.
CSL was also increasing its production from three to four batches per week from May 17, delivering more than 1 million doses each week.
So far almost 2.4 million doses of both AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines have been administered across the country, and 79,000 doses were administered on Tuesday.
State and territory-run vaccination clinics opened up on Monday to allow people over 50 to be vaccinated with AstraZeneca, while continuing to vaccinate frontline workers under the age of 50 with Pfizer.
From May 17, everyone over the age of 50 will be able to get the vaccine from general practices as well, but Dr Lucas de Toca said some clinics were already opening up their books for those patients.
Dr de Toca, from the Department of Health’s COVID-19 primary care response team, said the system has the flexibility to allow general practices to deliver more doses as the program opened up.
“Those practices that are capable and have demand that allows them to increase the vaccinations that they are doing every week can do that,” he said.
More than 3000 practices that currently receive 50 doses a week will from next week be able to administer 150 doses per week. A further 1000 practices will receive twice as many doses as they are currently receiving.
Former Australian Medical Association president Dr Tony Bartone said GPs have already delivered more than half of all COVID vaccines across the country.
“The extra doses will ensure we continue to avail more and more of our patients of this very, very safe and very, very important vaccine,” he said.
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