19 August, 2021
WA Primary Health Alliance is a key contributor to the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout, leading the primary health care response in Western Australia (WA).
In February 2021, following a direction from the Australian Government, WA Primary Health Alliance sent an expression of interest to take part in the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout to general practices. As a result, more than 300 practices were onboarded to provide the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Today, 583 or 79 per cent of WA general practices are taking part in the rollout – with many now providing both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines to people across the state.
Included in this group are 14 Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics (also known as GP Respiratory Clinics) are delivering COVID-19 vaccines and crucial services in the assessment and testing of COVID-19 in the community. Considering the evolving COVID-19 outbreaks in other states, these Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics play an increasingly critical role in keeping our communities safe.
WA Primary Health Alliance is assisting the Australian Government in the coordination, planning and delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to residents and staff of residential aged care facilities. Vaccination of residential aged care staff is time critical given the Australian Government’s mandate for this workforce to have a first vaccine by 17 September 2021.
Taking a leadership role in the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout means WA Primary Health Alliance is working in an agile and flexible manner, meeting tight deadlines and constraints, as advice and updates are provided by the Australian Government. This includes the provision of communications updates, clinical updates and logistical support to general practices and residential aged care facilities in WA. WA Primary Health Alliance also has a key role in integrating the Australian and State Governments’ COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
On top of the logistic and communications support, the COVID-19 team provides regular updates, education opportunities, business support, and other resources to general practices, Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics and residential aged care facility providers taking part in the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout.
Since WA Primary Health Alliance sent the initial expression of interest to general practices in February, the COVID-19 team has responded to thousands of requests and queries from general practices and other vaccination providers.
These requests range from the provision of advice around Medicare Benefits Scheme funding, to the transfer of stock from vaccine sites and, more often, a need for clarification due to the ever-changing nature of the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout.
Currently, queries relating to eligibility criteria, as well as timing of the announcement of new Pfizer allocations, are among the most common.
Residential aged care facility support
At the beginning of the rollout, the priority of the aged care vaccine team was ensuring the majority of residential aged care facility residents were offered, and received, a COVID-19 vaccine.
By August, nearly 14,000 (or 81 per cent) of residential aged care facility residents had received at least one dose of a vaccine. The focus of the rollout has now expanded to include the vaccination of all aged care staff to meet the September deadline.
WA Primary Health Alliance has played an integral role in co-ordinating and facilitating the aged care roll-out, supporting the Australian Government, Commonwealth vaccination providers and residential aged care facilities with all aspects of the program. Our team is in daily communication with the facilities and vaccination providers, problem solving and supporting any challenges that arise.
Administering COVID-19 vaccines to residential aged care staff requires a whole of team effort
Following a National Cabinet meeting on 28 June, it was announced that all residential aged care staff would be mandated to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 17 September 2021.
WA Primary Health Alliance was asked to:
- Identify general practices, Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services interested in administering vaccines to residential aged care facility staff via bespoke clinics;
- Provide these practices with a dedicated supply of Pfizer vaccine for use during these clinics;
- Coordinate interested vaccination providers and residential aged care facilities to enable the vaccination of aged care facility staff; and
- Report to the Australian Government on the use of Pfizer stocks and the number of staff receiving vaccines.
A survey was sent to general practice vaccination providers to gather data from interested providers.
As a result, more than 30 general practices are now offering vaccinations to residential aged care staff across the Perth metropolitan area and regional WA.