Rural doctors: COVID-19 jab is free, we advise you get it
Rural GPs are encouraging everyone to roll up their sleeves and get the free COVID-19 vaccination when it becomes available.
News this week that the first shipment of the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has arrived in Australia and the Therapeutic Goods Administration's approval of the Astra Zeneca vaccine has been welcomed by rural doctors.
The Rural Doctors Association of Australia president Dr John Hall said they have been monitoring the Government plans closely and have been given repeated assurances that the vaccine will be made available to rural and remote Australians, as each phase of the vaccine roll out occurs.
Dr Hall said the vaccine will start being received by the most vulnerable Australians and frontline border and health workers from next week, pending final batch testing.
"We encourage all rural and remote Australians to receive the vaccine, as it will be the best way to be protect you against getting seriously ill from COVID-19," Dr Hall said.
"It is important to know that even after vaccination you can still carry and shed the virus, so it is crucial that everyone in your family receives the vaccine to prevent them from getting seriously ill.
"If you have any concerns or underlying conditions, now is a great time to see your doctor to discuss your particular situation."
Dr Hall said COVID-19 vaccines will be made available for free for everyone living in Australia, including all Australian citizens, permanent residents and most visa-holders.
This includes people not eligible for Medicare; all patients will be bulk-billed.
Dr Hall said more than 142,000 doses are in the first shipment, with 20 million doses of Pfizer and more than 53 million doses of AstraZeneca to ultimately be delivered.
The Government has also ordered 51 million doses of the Novavax vaccine which is still be approve be the TGA.
The Pfizer vaccine will be delivered through hospital "hubs" across Australia, in residential aged care and disability care facilities.
Logistics company DHL has been engaged to support the distribution of the Pfizer vaccine across Australia via a network of 200 ultra-low temperature portable freezers.
"The Federal Government has made a real effort to ensure that rural areas are not forgotten, and have given RDAA multiple assurances that it will be available in rural areas as quickly as possible," Dr Hall said.
"But we have to remember - there are over a million of these people who are eligible in phase 1A and they are spread right across Australia.
"It is going to take time."