GPs to get boosted access to virus vaccine

The federal government will triple the number of coronavirus vaccine doses available to smaller GPs.
The federal government will triple the number of coronavirus vaccine doses available to smaller GPs.

More coronavirus vaccine doses will be made available to general practices in a bid to ramp up the behind-schedule rollout.

Clinics with lower volumes will have access tripled from 50 to 150 doses a week, while higher-capacity GPs are set to have doubled allocations.

GPs with medium and high capacities will now have access to between 400 and 800 doses a week, up from 100 to 400.

Former Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone said the extra doses would be crucial to rolling out safe vaccines.

"General practice is the backbone of immunisation delivery in this country, we have done it every year for the past number of decades," he told reporters in Melbourne on Wednesday.

Australia has administered more than 2.4 million doses of coronavirus vaccines since the rollout began in late February.

But the federal government has faced criticism over the speed of the rollout after setting now-abandoned targets including four million jabs by the end of March.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said 79,000 vaccinations in the past 24 hours showed the program was accelerating.

Mr Hunt said 330,000 AstraZeneca doses would be delivered this week but that would rise to 450,000 and 600,000 in the following two weeks.

Pharmaceutical giant CSL is expected to soon move to four batches of AstraZeneca a week, taking the doses provided to the government past one million every seven days.

"There is some chance it may be earlier but at this stage we are banking on the week of May 17th," Mr Hunt said.

An Australian National University survey of more than 3000 people found almost two thirds of Australians believe the rollout is not being handled well.

Between January and April there was an increase in the number of Australians who say they would get a "safe and effective vaccine" - rising from 43.7 per cent to 54.7 per cent.

However, it was still down on August's figure of 58.5 per cent, as concerns were raised about extremely rare AstraZeneca side-effects.

Australian Associated Press