The fear began last Wednesday, when the government blinded many GPs by publicly telling Australians to go to a new government website, which examined the feasibility for the vaccine and the then connecting approximately 6 million eligible patients with approximately 1,000 physician clinics currently to distribute the vaccine. .
GPs did not immediately know. In the absence of a vaccine supply, most patients were unable to keep it.
“I know of customs that made up to 1,000 phone calls that day. Our phones, we didn’t count them so I couldn’t tell you how many, ”says Davidson. “But the time and money it took us to just explain to all patients ‘I’m sorry, we can’t book a place for you’, ‘I’m sorry we don’t have a vaccine’.”
Even where sailings were promised last week, before level 1b began on Monday, some did not show up.
Government letters received by the Guardian indicate that, in some areas, there was a “significant” delivery failure. In some cases, vaccines appeared, but needles and vessels were not disposed of.
New South Wales floods delayed further deliveries.
Mukesh Haikerwal, a Melbourne-based GP and former president of the Australian Medical Association, was full of cries before his clinic received any doses.
“The switchboard turned red again today,” he told the Guardian last Thursday. “It simply came to our notice then. Each time you put it down, two more will come in.
“The message has to be … we have to do it in order, we have to get vaccines to do it. To say that 4 million people will be done on Monday, and that is the message that has just gone out, was of no help to anyone. ”
The huge demand was exacerbated by problems with the government website and private websites.
The faulty design of the government website suggested to some regional residents that they had to drive hours, in some cases across state borders, to reach a participating GP clinic. In Tasmania, some residents were told that one of their nearest clinics was on the mainland.
In Esperance, Western Australia, residents were told by the website that the nearest clinic was in Boulder, a trip four hours away.
Residents of Mount Gambier, South Australia, have been told that the nearest clinic involved in the Covid-19 distribution is over the state border in Portland, Victoria.
It was only after the Guardian’s report on the problem that the health department issued a disclaimer explaining that another 3,000 clinics would be up and running in the coming weeks, and to recover if a clinic was not yet available in a specific area.
Worse still, despite the long lead time for the vaccination effort, the government website was inaccessible to blind Australians and visually impaired people. That brought great frustration from Chris Edwards of Vision Australia, the group’s government relations and advocacy manager.
“We all recognize that at times information needs to be sent out quickly, but in this case, they have had a long time to go through this,” Edwards said.
Business sources told the Guardian that the launch of the website had been torn down – a claim that the government was controversial.
“We were surprised to see that he went up because we were told he was preparing to go live on Monday,” one source told the Guardian on condition of anonymity. “What the hell happened?”
A separate government-contracted private website, HealthEngine, was also defective. The site allowed users to book for a second dose within days of the first, despite government recommendations that a three-month gap was needed to provide maximum effectiveness.
f The roll-out of the vaccine is without doubt one of the most complex and challenging initiatives facing the Australian government.
It has become even more complicated by factors outside government control. International supply of the AstraZeneca vaccine is restricted by the European Union, which has prevented hundreds of thousands of doses from reaching Australia.
That has left the country dependent on local manufacturing through CSL, which began releasing 830,000 doses for use Tuesday, a major achievement in the dispersal effort.
Australia has less of a crisis than other countries, which are still hit hard by community dispersal.
But that is exactly why the government has reiterated that Australia has had time to disperse it, and to conduct it carefully and efficiently.
The time it took him to let Australia set targets is now easy to recommend.
An estimated 4 million Australians were to be vaccinated by the end of March. By Wednesday, approximately 312,502 doses had been given. The government has moved from promising all Australians to the vaccine by October, to saying that everyone would get their first dose by October.
Health department secretary Professor Brendan Murphy said the challenges in Europe were not expected when the government set its first targets.
“Europe has been challenged, they have a pandemic and they say AstraZeneca must make the European commitments before they can export. The reason they are allowed to export Pfizer is because Pfizer has been able to fulfill the European contractual obligations.
“AstraZeneca continues to try, we will continue to try through different diplomatic channels, but we do not expect to receive the extra vaccines any time soon. The supply nations are still under a contractual obligation to us and, and may deliver, but we do not count on it. ”
Whatever the international constraints, there have been clear errors in the distribution of Australia.
One GP clinic, Claremont Village medical center, had issued specific instructions to the health department that they did not want to be listed as a vaccination center.
It was listed in error anyway.
“How does that error happen?” Labor senator Anne Urquhart was asked in this week’s Senate estimates.
Health secretary Caroline Edwards replied: “It’s a great program, grandfather. ”
The government has rejected suggestions that it scrapped the website’s reputation, or that doctors’ clinics were set up.
“Every physician center knew that the collaborative practices would be demonstrated in the clinic search,” Murphy told Senate estimates this week.
The complaint from many GPs, however, was about the way the government was communicating with the public. Expectations have been set that Australians will be able to apply for a vaccination at their local GP within a week, doctors said.
Notes from the last weekly primary care implementation group meeting launched ahead of Wednesday’s website launch show the government has been warned it needs to take control of the public. expecting. The government said their case was in their hands.
However, the day after Wednesday’s announcement, the president of the Royal College of General Practitioners of Australia, Dr Karen Price, warned that GPs were under “extreme pressure” and needed better communication from government.
Price has since informed the Conservator that starting local manufacturing will allow for greater security of supply, relieving some of the pressure on GPs.
Until then, however, clinics like Davidson’s in Port Stephens have to fight ahead, meeting high demand with a poor supply of vaccines.
“Everyone has been working so hard,” she said. “Most common practices didn’t deserve a jobkeeper, we’ve all had huge costs.
“We are the people who have been working, through the pandemic.”