Vic GP child vaccine supply ‘sporadic’

Emily Woods |

Some Victorian GPs are receiving only 100 child COVID-19 vaccines per fortnight as their professional body warns vaccination rollout mistakes from last year are being repeated.

The vaccine rollout for children aged between five and 11 has been marred by supply issues on the first day of the program.

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Victorian chair Anita Munoz said supply was coming in “sporadically” with some GP practices given 100 doses a week and others given 100 doses a fortnight.

“That is, really, terribly inadequate numbers for general practices to vaccinate kids,” she told AAP. 

“The supply itself is unreliable and sporadic, and we understand that’s in part because the logistics industry is affected by COVID itself. 

“But it’s not just that, when supplies finally do arrive they’re coming in in inadequate numbers.”

Dr Munoz said the average Victorian GP has about 1500 children on its books.

“So you can imagine how slow that means general practice will be forced to go based on the paucity of supply,” she said. 

She said the RACGP had given “a lot of feedback” to the federal government about how to ensure the latest vaccine rollout would run smoothly and efficiently. 

“What we really wanted to avoid was repeating any of the mistakes we needed to learn from last year,” she said. 

“I am disappointed that these kinds of issues are being repeated.”

While some GP clinics are standing down practitioners and other staff due to COVID-19-related isolation requirements, she said this was not affecting the rollout as much as supply issues.

The head of Australia’s vaccine rollout, Lieutenant General John Frewen, denied there were supply problems.

“There are thousands of bookings are ready to go (on Monday) and will happen across the country,” he told the ABC. 

Victoria has doubled the number of state-run vaccination sites available for children aged five to 11, with 36 sites around the state.

COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar on Sunday said state clinics had enough supply and the health department was working closely with GPs and pharmacies.

However, Dr Munoz said many parents were reluctant to use state hubs to vaccinate their kids.

“They see them really as a Plan B because they, understandably and reasonably, see general practices and much more child-friendly environment for undertaking vaccination,” she said.

She said the delayed rollout could impact Victorian children returning to school since “we cannot say that all children will have one dose let alone two doses, given the trickle of doses into general practice”.

Acting Premier Jacinta Allan told reporters on Sunday there were no plans to change the school return date, expected in early February.

Victoria recorded 34,808 new COVID-19 cases and two people died from the virus, the health department said on Monday. 

The new infections included 17,190 from rapid antigen tests and 17,618 from PCR tests, with the state now managing 161,065 active cases.

There are 818 patients in hospital, 66 more than the previous day, including 118 in ICU and 28 requiring ventilators.

About 17 per cent of Victorians aged over 18 have received their third dose of a vaccine, while 93 per cent of those aged over 12 are double-dose vaccinated.