Australia’s Covid vaccine rollout hit by ‘significant’ teething errors, health department admits | Australia news

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It also noted multiple reports that “consumables”, which typically include needles, syringes and sharps disposal containers, had not arrived.

“We have heard that a number of practices have received their vaccine, but not received their consumables,” the correspondence said. “Again, we [are] feeding all the input back to the VOC and we are working on an improved system.”

GPs are able to order consumables from the federal government through the same online portal they use to order vaccines. Doctors had been encouraged to seek their own supplies of consumables before ordering them through the government.

Australia remains well behind on its vaccine distribution targets. Despite the sluggish progress, the government remains upbeat, saying that, without community transmission, there is room for patience and an orderly process. It also remains confident that all those in phase 1b would be vaccinated by the middle of the year.

The nation’s position was strengthened considerably on Tuesday night, when the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced it had given approval for the locally manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine to be released for use in Australia. That is expected to free up four batches of the vaccine – about 832,000 doses – for use.

The internationally manufactured AstraZeneca vaccine already had TGA approval.

“TGA testing of the vaccine batches in our Canberra laboratories plus review of extensive manufacturing documentation, has ensured that the locally-manufactured vaccine has exactly the same composition and performance as the overseas-manufactured vaccine, the same quality, and is free of contaminants,” the TGA said.

On Monday the health department secretary, Prof Brendan Murphy, said the logistical challenge of getting vaccines to more than 4,000 GP clinics in the next month was “huge and complex”.

“Getting vaccines to all of these points of presence is a complicated and sophisticated logistic task and, of course, as new clinics come on board, more appointments will be available and more access will be available,” he said.

“As I’ve said on many occasions, we are rolling out clinics, points of presence and vaccine as soon as we have available vaccine … but that is the major determining factor of the rate of rollout.”

GP clinics are not the only providers experiencing difficulties. A shipment to one of the commonwealth-run respiratory clinics was delayed on Monday due to suspected cold chain supply issues, forcing the clinic to turn patients away. The respiratory clinics were set up to ease pressure on GPs.

To link eligible Australians with their local GPs, the government is largely relying on a website, which it launched last week.

The website’s launch caused GP clinics to be inundated with calls and requests for bookings, blindsiding many. Some GPs are already booked out beyond July.

GP clinics have also reported being significantly undersupplied with vaccine doses – some with fewer than 50 doses a week – making it difficult to meet demand.

On Tuesday the Guardian revealed that one of the main booking websites being used to make vaccine appointments with GPs, HealthEngine, was allowing patients to book in for their second dose within days of their first, despite government recommendations that a three-month interval be allowed.

The problem compounded demand on GP clinics.

Murphy has asked for patience from the Australian public.

“So we do ask people, I know there’s a lot of enthusiasm, which is great, in Australia, to get vaccinated, but be patient and wait, look at the eligibility checker and wait for appointments to come up.”

Phase 1a, which is vaccinating aged care residents and frontline health workers, is continuing concurrently to phase 1b.

Hafta Ichi
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Australia’s Covid vaccine rollout hit by ‘significant’ teething errors, health department admits | Australia news

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