RACGP backs GP-led role in COVID-19 vaccine rollout

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The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) welcomes government confirmation that GPs will be at the forefront of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

At a press conference with Minister for Health Greg Hunt today, RACGP President Dr Karen Price said GPs will play an important role in the vaccine rollout.

“This is a massive undertaking for our country and GPs will be essential. The majority of Australians go to their GP for their vaccinations and for many Australians they will do the same for their COVID-19 vaccine.

“Vaccinations are one of the greatest success stories of modern medicine and GP-led vaccination programs have been at the forefront all along.”

On Thursday the Government announced an accelerated rollout, bringing it forward to mid-to-late February, with high priority groups to receive the vaccine first.

The RACGP President said the RACGP is working with government on the rollout.

“We are having constructive discussions with the Minister for Health and the Heath Department on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to help make sure Australia gets it right.

“General practice is well positioned to support the rollout – there are GPs living and working in communities right across our country, in cities, rural towns and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

“We are talking to Government to ensure GPs are appropriately supported to help with this mass vaccine drive, and ensure vaccines are delivered safely and effectively across Australia.”

“We need to get this right. We need high immunisation rates to protect Australians from the COVID-19 virus.

“There are many challenges ahead, including the need to build community confidence in the new vaccines through evidence-based information campaigns that address the community’s specific concerns and deal with misinformation and myths.

 “These challenges also underpin why general practice will be so crucial in the rollout. GPs are perfectly placed to increase vaccine confidence and uptake. We are connected to our communities, we know our patients and they trust us.

“This is especially true for GPs who engage with culturally and linguistically diverse communities and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. The GPs who live and work in these communities will know how to talk to their patients in a culturally appropriate way, and discuss any concerns patients may have.”

The RACGP President said general practice is one of the safest places for patients to receive their COVID-19 vaccine.

“GPs draw on a patient history and are equipped with the necessary medical training and facilities to manage any rare adverse reactions. General practice is also connected to the Australian Immunisation Register, which will ensure accurate record keeping of vaccine uptake.”

Dr Price said the fact that GPs are a priority group to receive the vaccine reflects the critical role GPs have and continue to play in responding to COVID-19.

“GPs are a priority group to receive the vaccine, the majority will receive the vaccine in phase 1b, with those working in GP-led respiratory clinics set to receive it in phase 1a of the rollout. This is important for the protection of GPs on the frontline working in respiratory clinics, and those caring for communities across the country.

“The vaccine rollout is a complicated and logistically challenging task. Thankfully Australia is in a good place to get the job done, and do it well, as we have very low rates of the virus in Australia compared to other countries, and we have a world class general practice system that’s perfectly positioned to help.

“The RACGP looks forward to working with the Commonwealth and states and territories in supporting the vaccine rollout.”

The RACGP is providing information and resources on the vaccine to support GPs and patients. The information is available on the RACGP website here.

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