Elderly Australians and those with underlying conditions will be the first priority when phase 1b begins on March 22, with more than 1000 GP clinics initially involved and a rapid scale-up planned in subsequent weeks.
“This will ensure an efficient and equitable distribution of vaccines across the country,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said in a statement on Sunday.
The federal government has put more than A$6 billion towards Australia’s coronavirus vaccine rollout, with contracts for more than 150 million doses in total and one third to be made by pharmaceutical giant CSL in Victoria.
The home-made doses are expected to be available in time for phase 1B.
Australian Medical Association President Omar Khorshid said no party was better equipped to administer the vaccines than GP clinics.
People could then get their COVID-19 jab close to home.
“General practitioners have a proven track record with flu vaccination of older Australians and those living with chronic disease, who will make up the bulk of the phase 1B rollout,” Khorshid said in a statement.
“It is very pleasing to see the majority of GPs putting up their hands to participate in this critical national program.
“General practice is highly accessible for people and has helped Australia achieve some of the highest rates of vaccination in the world.”
The staged commencement of general practices will be complemented by GP-led respiratory clinics and Aboriginal community controlled health services.
The AMA said more than 130 respiratory clinics and over 300 Aboriginal community controlled health service sites will support the phase 1b rollout.
AstraZeneca and Pfizer doses from overseas are being given to frontline health and hotel quarantine workers, as well as aged and disability care residents and staff, as part of phase 1A.
Almost 74,000 people in Australia have received their first vaccine dose so far.
As the vaccine rollout continues across Australia, more than 40,000 of the country’s residents remain overseas and are trying to return.
By Angelo Risso