Doctors revolt over vaccine costs

Doctors are in revolt over COVID-19 vaccine costs and low dose numbers. Picture: Jens Schluter / AFP

Doctors in revolt over COVID-19 vaccine payments and dose numbers have been told the situation will “settle down” as Australia ramps up its rollout.

GPs have complained low payments and smaller-than-expected dose numbers will not cover their costs as they administer the vaccine.

A group of GPs has threatened to withdraw from the vaccination rollout, some claiming they have received just 50 doses per week despite requesting 200 per day.

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But Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Dr Karen Price said the COVID-19 vaccine was particularly “complicated” given it was administered in two doses and required staff training.

RELATED: Health Minister Greg Hunt has rejected a call by a Toorak GP to charge patients for the COVID-19 vaccine

Some GPs are complaining about COVID-19 vaccine costs and low dose numbers. Picture: David Mariuz / AAP Image
Some GPs are complaining about COVID-19 vaccine costs and low dose numbers. Picture: David Mariuz / AAP Image

She said many clinics planned their finances around receiving a high volume of doses but hoped the situation would “settle down” as the rollout progressed.

“What has happened here is that we have got a low volume to start with,” she told Today on Monday.

“This is really a way of testing procedures, making sure everything will go along OK.

“So given it is the first week of the rollout and CSL haven’t got up to full speed ahead yet, I think it will settle down as we get going.”

Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Sunday that 1000 GP practices would begin to administer the vaccine from March 22, with 4500 to be brought into the scheme by April.

Greg Hunt has defended the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine payments. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Matray
Greg Hunt has defended the federal government’s COVID-19 vaccine payments. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Sarah Matray

He said that number was an “incredible result” and well above the federal government’s “best expectations”.

Under the federal government’s plan, doctors are paid $31 for the first vaccine they administer and $24 for the second.

Mr Hunt said he had resisted calls from some GPs for them to charge patients for the jab, insisting it would be free for all Australians.

But Mr Hunt claimed the federal government had tripled the payments provided for the regular flu jab, saying doctors were “not at all” expected to shoulder the cost of the vaccine.

“There’s a very, very large payment that the commonwealth is making,” he said.

Former prime minister Julia Gillard receives her AstraZeneca vaccine on Sunday. Picture: Andrew Henshaw
Former prime minister Julia Gillard receives her AstraZeneca vaccine on Sunday. Picture: Andrew Henshaw

“The payments have been worked through with the College of General Practitioners, and as I say, the number of practices that have actually applied and been approved is more than double our best expectation.”

Mr Hunt made the comments after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine alongside former prime minister Julia Gillard and Health Department secretary Brendan Murphy.

The trio were vaccinated at the official launch of the AstraZeneca jab, which most Australians will receive.

“This is going to be our workhorse … I’m really excited to be here to receive this vaccine,” he said.

“(The Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines) both work, and you need to go out there when it‘s your turn and get them.”

The vaccine will begin rolling out in Queensland on Monday.

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