The latest COVID-19 vaccine rollout update showed that 19 per cent of the doses made available to the states, and the Commonwealth-managed general practice, aged care and disability sites, had not been utilised yet.
According to the report, dose utilisation is the number of doses administered out of the total delivered and it includes a small percentage for wasted doses.
It showed that 11.3 million vaccine doses had been distributed, including 4.3 million to the states and 6.5 million to general practices.
More than 7.3 million doses had been administered, with dose usage highest in NSW and Tasmania (98 per cent) and lowest in Western Australia (78 per cent).
Usage was lowest in general practice (74 per cent).
Stephen Duckett, director of the health program at the Grattan Institute, said it was not surprising the state mass vaccination centres were more efficient than general practices.
“If you’re doing 5000 people a day, and you have five doses left over at the end of the day, it’s a far smaller proportion than doing 10 people a day. A small centre like a general practice is almost inevitably going to have higher wastage,” he said.
Pressure is mounting on the federal government to speed up the rollout as premiers struggle to manage outbreaks in Queensland, NSW and Western Australia.
Who’s eligible for COVID vaccination?
With lockdowns gripping much of the country and shifting rules around vaccines, you might be considering whether it’s time to get the jab.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on Tuesday younger Australians could request the AstraZeneca vaccine through their GPs.
Medical advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has recommended that AstraZeneca is the preferred vaccine for those aged 60 and over.
The AstraZeneca jab has been linked to blood clots in extremely rare cases.
Yesterday, some state premiers said the decision to offer younger people the AZ jab had not been made by the National Cabinet, which is composed of state and territory leaders.
NSW premier Gladys Berejiklian urged anyone under 60 to talk to their GP before electing to have the AstraZeneca vaccine.
However, Queensland chief health officer Jeannette Young said she did not think it was the time to “risk the safety of young Australians” by encouraging them to have the AstraZeneca vaccine.
WA premier Mark McGowan also said the health advice was that vaccinating under 40s with AstraZeneca “should not happen”.
Queensland Health Minister Yvette D’Ath said that some of the state’s vaccination centres would run out of Pfizer vaccines as early as 5 July.
NSW Health administered 20,836 doses on Tuesday, its highest ever number, as Greater Sydney went through its fourth day of a two-week lockdown.
Ms Berejiklian foreshadowed additional vaccination sites and pharmacies in NSW to drive the rollout, but noted more GPs were needed to ramp up administration.
A spokesperson for NSW Health said they were exploring options to further expand vaccination capacity to support the GP network.
GP Charlotte Hespe said her Sydney general practice would begin administering Pfizer vaccines on 5 July, though many practices were discouraged by the cost.
“It’s so badly funded to support GPs to do this. We’re not talking greedy funding, just costing to make it worth your while to do it,” she said.
“Breaking even would be fine, but there’s no cost for infrastructure, there’s no cost for admin, and the Pfizer is more costly in terms of admin requirements to roll out.”
Dr Duckett said for the next couple of months, supply would not meet the demand driven by the current outbreaks.
“Like what we saw in Victoria, and what we’re now seeing in NSW, massive increase in demand. One of the reasons people were hesitant about being vaccinated was they said there’s ‘no virus, I don’t care’. We are now seeing that that was wrong,” he said.
He said both mass vaccination centres and general practices were essential for a mass vaccination program, along with multiple education campaigns to target different groups.
“Some people don’t know if the vaccine is effective. That’s one audience. Some might say there’s no risk, so that’s another audience,” he said.
He said an education campaign should not be held up until supply problems were resolved.
“Obviously it’s better if they’ve got no supply problems, but we’ve got no supply problems for AstraZeneca and people are still not being vaccinated,” he said.
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