Some of the first Pfizer doses to be administered by Tasmanian GPs have arrived in the state, with one Launceston doctor predicting Australia's "strict and staged" COVID-19 vaccine roll-out is about to unravel.
Mowbray's Northern Suburbs Medical Service was one of the first Tasmanian practices to begin administering AstraZeneca in March.
On Wednesday it received its first supply of Pfizer, as one of about 300 general practices in Australia scheduled to begin delivering the vaccine alongside AstraZeneca.
NSMS practice principal Dr Andrew Jackson said their modest allocation of about 120 Pfizer doses would likely result in a long queue of patients, as doctors continue to juggle managing regular care with vaccinations.
"We are dealing with the constantly shifting goal posts from the federal government," he said.
"We know about the phased roll-out, but to some extent that top-down arrangement is starting to fall apart.
"Over the coming months, given the vaccine hesitancy, I think the strict roll-out will collapse and it will become who turns up and puts their arm up, as to who will be given it - but with an eye for the people who should be a priority.
"We also want to make sure we don't set aside the usual care of patients. We know from lockdowns last year, all sorts of medical problems were left unattended."
On Wednesday federal Health Minister Greg Hunt continued to defend the surprise announcement from the government that any adult who wants the AstraZeneca jab can now have it.
Advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation remains unchanged, recommending AstraZeneca only be made available to people aged over 60, with Pfizer to be given to all other adults.
While many doctors reported being caught off-guard by the latest shake-up, Dr Jackson said GPs were used to managing risks.
"I've always been prepared to offer AstraZenenca to those below 60. We just have to get on with it," he said. "The words the government have always used is 'preferred'.
"No regulations were passed, nothing was mandated about which vaccines must or must not be given.
"The managing for an individual patient as to whether receive AstraZeneca in light of the clots controversy, is just another thing that needs to be managed."
NSMS is planning to begin administering Pfizer from Saturday week, and says it has already given out more than 1000 AstraZeneca doses.
A federal Health Department spokesperson confirmed there are now 110 primary care sites administering AstraZeneca in Tasmania, including more than 100 general practices.
Next week, from July 5, at least five general practices will commence vaccinating with Pfizer in Tasmania with an average weekly allocation of 150 to 300 doses, increasing to almost 20 practices by the end of July.
"It is anticipated that all participating general practices, including those in Tasmania will have the opportunity to administer the Pfizer vaccine later this year, based on the vaccine supply," the spokesperson said.
More than 1300 GPs are expected to be administering Pfizer across Australia by the end of July.
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