Tasmanian GPs will now able to vaccinate older and more vulnerable residents in their own homes, in a move doctors say will help assist those who have fallen through the cracks of the roll-out.
This week federal Health Minister Greg Hunt announced approval for GPs to visit people in aged care homes, or those at home unable to attend vaccination clinics, as part a major shift aimed at better protecting the elderly and people with disability.
The scheme comes with additional funding to cover the cost, with GPs to be paid $56.75 for a visit to an aged care facility, disability residence or a patient's home.
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In Tasmania as of June 13, more than 11,500 vaccine doses had been administered in aged care and disability facilities statewide.
While Tasmania's uptake of both the Pfizer and AstraZenneca vaccines remains high, Launceston Health Hub director Jerome Muir Wilson said greater flexibility within the roll-out was welcomed.
"Certainly I am aware of some patients who have gone into aged care since the rollout commenced, and so have might have missed out on getting a vaccine then," he said.
"Once they have gone into care, there is no clear pathway to get vaccinated with Pfizer if they can't get out of their aged care home to get it, or they missed the first round.
"We also know transport can be a massive issue for people living disability, or complex conditions."
Dr Muir Wilsons said GPs had been providing all vaccinations, such as influenza, to aged residents for years with great success.
"GPs are well placed to assist vaccinating those residents that have fallen through the cracks," he said.
In announcing the scheme, Mr Hunt said people were still encouraged to visit a doctor or vaccination clinic, if they were able to.
"It's about expanding the vaccination program, bringing it to people, and it's recognising that each year, we have up to 60,000 people who come into aged care, and to ensure that there is a continuous vaccination program in our aged care facilities and in our disability facilities as those programs continue to go forward," he said.
The vaccine rollout has now reached 100 per cent of aged care facilities nationally for first doses and 94 per cent with second doses, with Mr Hunt confirming 300 general practices would begin administering the Pfizer vaccine from July.
On Tuesday Premier Peter Gutwein said Tasmania's supply of the Pfizer vaccine remained strong.
"Importantly, we will start rolling out [Pfizer] to GPs over the coming month as well, so they can do both Pfizer and AstraZeneca," he said.
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