GPs want greater support for adolescent booster program

After receiving approval from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) to use the vaccine as a booster dose for adolescents aged 16 and 17, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has warned that practices delivering Covid-19 vaccines need more assistance.

“This latest booster announcement for adolescents 16- to 17-year-olds is great news but it will add another layer of work for the nation’s GPs and general practice teams,” says RACGP President Dr Karen Price.

“We are flat out delivering kid’s vaccines, which is more time intensive and complicated compared to adults, as well as boosters and taking care of our day-to-day patient case load. Some people avoided or delayed screenings and consults during the pandemic and others have had to delay elective surgery, so helping those people is also a high priority.

“If we are to continue as the backbone of the vaccine rollout, we really need more support from the federal Government. Many practices are having enormous difficulty absorbing the cost of taking part in the rollout. We didn’t sign up to make money but at the end of the day we must make ends meet because no one benefits when a practice has to shut up shop.

“Last year, I welcomed an additional $10 for practices delivering booster vaccines; however, since then our workload has only grown and grown. That is why we need the federal Government to step up and provide more funding for our hardworking general practice teams. When that occurs, practices in communities across Australia will be able to run more after-hours and weekend vaccination clinics and get more vaccines in arms as soon as possible.

“I am proud of all the GPs and general practice teams taking part in the rollout, but we need greater support. With Omicron cases surging across the country – the time for action is now,” says Dr Price.