This year, WA Primary Health Alliance played a key role in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, leading the primary health care response in WA.
General practice participation
Following a direction from the Australian Government, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) onboarded general practices, to take part in the rollout. The total number of participating practices is 562, or 77%.
This includes up to 14 Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics (also known as GP Respiratory Clinics) which are delivering COVID-19 vaccines and crucial services in the assessment and testing of COVID-19 in the community.
On behalf of the Australian Government Department of Health, we approached general practice to not only deliver the vaccine to patients but to also conduct in-reach visits to residential aged care facilities, to people with disabilities and to homebound patients.
We participated in a significant logistical exercise, working with partners across the state to redistribute vaccines to minimise waste and increase availability of stock and appointments, which is particularly important in regional areas.
As of 1 September 2021, these practices had given a staggering 1 million doses.
Image: George Walley receives COVID-19 vaccination
Our HealthPathways team added six new COVID-19 specific pathways created between July 2020 and June 2021. This was in addition to the 16 COVID-19 pages viewed by health professionals more than 33,000 times during this period.
HealthPathways provided a single source of truth for GPs with up-to-date guidelines and information from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA), Australian and State governments, various Australian health peak bodies with guidance on wide ranging topics including pregnancy, immunology, and cardiology in relation to COVID-19 and vaccines.
A noteworthy achievement was the considerable work put in when a link was made between Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) and thrombosis and thrombocytopenia. Substantial efforts were made to ensure the most accurate, up-to-date information was provided by HealthPathways as the situation evolved.
Practice support and personal protective equipment
On average, our Practice Assist team dealt with more than 400 COVID-19 related enquiries a month.
Another important logistical role we played was the distribution of personal protective equipment to general practices and GP respiratory clinics.
GP respiratory clinics are at the frontline for assessment and testing of COVID-19 in Western Australia and the more than 8000 N95 face masks we delivered helped to keep primary care safe.
PPE requests and deliverables
* To GP Respiratory Clinics
Residential aged care
WAPHA has assisted with the coordination, planning and delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to residents and staff of residential aged care facilities. This involved thousands of phone calls, emails, and visits to facilities.
As of the Australian Government’s deadline of 17 September, more than 24,000 or 98.6 per cent of residential aged care facility staff had received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
More than 86 per cent of residential aged care residents (more than 13,000 people) were vaccinated in the same time period.
Going forward there will be a significant effort to vaccinate new residents and to provide boosters to this at-risk cohort.
This accomplishment required significant state-wide cooperation between residential aged care providers, WAPHA, WA Department of Health, state-run vaccination clinics, general practitioners, and Vaccine Administration Service providers contracted by the Australian Government Department of Health.
Supporting at risk communities
Our team supported groups at higher risk of severe disease if they contract COVID-19 and with less access to vaccines. Activities included supporting through funding and coordination “vaxathons” in communities such as Kununurra and Karratha.
Please note, some information in this section relates to the time period after 30 June 2021 but has been included given the fast-moving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic response.