More GPs needed for vaccine rollout: NSW

·3-min read

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says the Morrison government has failed to recruit enough GPs to administer the COVID-19 vaccine doses Australia is expecting in coming weeks and accused her federal counterparts of failing to plan for the future.

The federal government has told the states that vaccine supplies will increase in coming weeks, but the premier says there simply aren't enough GPs on board to get jabs into arms.

People in NSW are keen to get the vaccine and are registering their interest with the government in droves, Ms Berejiklian says.

The problem is not vaccine hesitancy, but supply and the infrastructure around the rollout.

"We need a plan for the future and to make sure the vaccine is accessible to our whole population," Ms Berejiklian said on Monday.

"We have the doses available, we need to make sure enough GPs are signed up. I have been calling on this for weeks and weeks, if not months.

"Our GPs want to do more. They want more doses and they want more GPs to come online. That is necessary, and that is not something the NSW government can control."

NSW administered a record 114,242 vaccines last week, including 45,014 at the state's mass vaccination clinic at Sydney Olympic Park.

Ms Berejiklian said the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are so far "holding up very well" against the highly contagious Delta variant, which has spread to 130 people in NSW in just under two weeks and prompted a Sydney lockdown.

The premier said she had to "beg" the federal government to let her open the mass vaccination hub in Sydney Olympic Park as "we have to plan for the future, we have to plan for the weeks and months ahead".

"I am frustrated that people aren't doing that at other levels," she said.

"All levels of government need to do the work now to make sure when the supply arrives that we get them into arms. I will say that until I am blue in the face."

NSW has now administered 2,125,175 vaccine doses.

NSW Health has given nearly 800,000 doses while some 1.3 million have been administered by the GP network and other providers.

Ms Berejiklian said Australia will not be able to talk about opening up until more people are vaccinated.

It would not be fair to provide incentives to get the vaccine until everyone has the opportunity to access it, she added.

COVID-19 task force commander John Frewen on Monday said 251 new GPs were cleared to dole out Pfizer jabs, including 51 in NSW.

He also said more than 1300 GPs would be added to the nationwide Pfizer rollout over the next three weeks. There are currently 6258 vaccination sites in Australia.

Meanwhile, unions are calling on the NSW and Commonwealth governments to provide a minimum half day of paid leave for workers to get vaccinated.

Unions NSW secretary Mark Morey said the NSW government was the nation's largest employer and Ms Berejiklian could lead the way by introducing "vax leave" for public servants.

He says the premier should make the case for vaccination leave at national cabinet and also push to have it funded for all casual and contract workers.

"Every barrier and impediment to vaccination must be removed as soon as possible," he said on Monday.

Homelessness NSW CEO Katherine McKernan also called for those sleeping rough to be vaccinated as soon as possible.

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