Geraldton GPs in the dark on vaccine supplies as hundreds book jabs ahead of Phase 1b rollout

Phoebe PinGeraldton Guardian
Panaceum Group director Dr Ian Taylor
Camera IconPanaceum Group director Dr Ian Taylor Credit: Supplied

Hundreds of Geraldton residents have already made appointments to roll up their sleeves when the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccination program starts next week, but most local GPs have not received vaccine supplies.

Phase 1B of the program will begin on Monday, allowing people over the age of 70, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 55, adults with a specified medical condition, health care workers not included in the first stage of the vaccination program and critical and high-risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing staff to receive the AstraZeneca jab.

City Health Geraldton is the only local GP currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine. Practice manager Sally Rogers said more than 400 people had already made appointments.

Panaceum Group director Ian Taylor said he did not know when the vaccine would be available at Panaceum Medical and Panaceum Seacrest. “We have been told nothing, we don’t know when it is going to arrive, nor do we know how much we are going to get,” he said.

“Some practices will be receiving 50 doses a week, which for a practice our size is ridiculous because we would be capable of vaccinating 300 or 500 people a day once we are organised.

“The big practices in this town have the capacity to rollout large quantities of vaccine safely, provided we can get it.”

Nurse Deb Musico vaccinating nurse practitioner Dee Brooks against COVID-19 in Geraldton this week.
Camera IconNurse Deb Musico vaccinating nurse practitioner Dee Brooks against COVID-19 in Geraldton this week. Credit: WA Country Health Service/Supplied, WA Country Health Service

Dr Taylor said both Panaceum practices would eventually be involved in the rollout of the vaccine, but asked Geraldton locals to sit tight while GPs waited for AstraZeneca stock.

“At this point there is no point in people ringing practices in Geraldton — mine or any other practice for that matter — because we just don’t know when we are going to get supplies and we don’t know how much we are going to get,” he said.

“We are in one of the safest towns in the safest State in the safest country and there is no need to stress.

“People shouldn’t feel they have to get the vaccine tomorrow, we will just take our time, wait for the stocks to come through and do it properly.”

Dr Taylor received his COVID jab on Wednesday and said he had experienced no side effects.

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt said additional general practices and selected community pharmacists will also participate in the program as the rollout moves into Phase 2.

“There will be six million Australians in Phase 1B, and not all will be able to be vaccinated immediately,” he said.

“We recognise that every Australian will have the opportunity to be vaccinated over the coming months ... No one will miss out.”

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