Aus GPs can vaccinate against Covid-19, but not in NZ

In July Australia was on track to authorise 1300 GPs so they could administer the Pfizer vaccine, yet New Zealand still hasn’t recognised GPs as an important tool in our vaccine rollout, National’s Health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti says.

“That’s more than the 1000 GP practices in New Zealand that could be used to help administer the Covid vaccine. That means more Australian GPs in one month can vaccinate than all of the GP practices in New Zealand.

“The Prime Minister proudly said this week there are about 113 GP practices that could give the vaccine in Auckland. Given there are around 400 practices in metropolitan Auckland she has no reason to be proud of squandering the time from when vaccines were available in February and Delta arriving in April. What were they doing instead ?

“GPs are vital in the national immunisation programme. They are trusted by their community. There is no good reason why they haven’t been used, particularly when we’re trying to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible.

“One barrier to GPs becoming authorised has been the huge compliance burden with the process taking six weeks, an 80 page operating manual and several site visits.

“Vaccinating against infectious diseases is not new for GPs. During the Government’s botched handling of the measles outbreak in 2019, GPs were urgently and safely giving thousands of MMR vaccines to New Zealanders and measles is more infectious than coronavirus.

“If the Government hadn’t made health system restructuring the top health priority then perhaps more focus could’ve been made on preventing Delta from crossing our border and planning just in case it did. Rather than spending time and money on the health restructure it should’ve been making sure we had enough vaccines and allowing GPs to vaccinate.

“The Government needs to reduce the compliance for GPs and get those Auckland GPs vaccinating. We are already disastrously late involving GPs and if we want to be vaccinating as many people as possible as quickly as possible, then GPs are a vital tool to do so.”