2 March 2021

How do vulnerable Canberrans who cannot leave the house get vaccinated?

| Dominic Giannini
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Rachel Stephen-Smith

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith says the Government is still finalising details about the second phase of the vaccine’s rollout, which is due to begin on 20 March. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

ACT Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith says the Commonwealth, and state and territory governments are still working through the details of how vulnerable Australians who cannot leave their house will be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Phase 1B of the vaccine rollout, which covers elderly adults above the age of 70, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people above the age of 55 and adults with an underlying medical condition including disabilities, is due to begin on 20 March.

Currently, the ACT Government is vaccinating frontline workers in Canberra, while the Commonwealth is in charge of vaccinating aged care and disability residential facilities.

The ACT’s vaccine allocation has been split 50-50 between the two so far, with 1000 frontline workers and 1000 residents vaccinated in the first week.

READ ALSO AstraZeneca vaccine to commence roll out in Canberra next week

Ms Stephen-Smith said both governments would likely work together to vaccinate vulnerable Australians receiving in-home care.

“A lot of those people who receive home care also receive care from our community nurses, so would it be more appropriate to do that in reaching into people’s homes?

“It will probably be a combination of [community nurses and GPs], depending on who is the most likely person who will see that individual, and whether they can travel or whether they are housebound and are unable to get to a health facility.”

Ms Stephen-Smith said the ACT Government is still trying to determine what phase 1B will look like in the ACT.

General practitioners are also working to distribute vaccinations from phase 1B, and Ms Stephen-Smith questioned whether they would be responsible for administering the vaccine to vulnerable Canberrans receiving in-home care.

“Will that be the responsibility of general practitioners and the hubs that they may set up? Or are they going to do their own patients as part of their standard patient care?” she said.

“There is a bit of a logistical challenge [compared to] a business as usual vaccination … recognising that [GPs] will need to use all the doses in a multidose vial within the time frame that they need to be used once that vial has been opened.”

Pharmacies will then join the rollout from phase 2A, which covers adults over the age of 50, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people over 18 and other critical and high-risk workers.

The rest of the adult population will be eligible for a jab in phase 2B. Any Australian who wants to be vaccinated will be able to receive the jab by the end of the year, Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said.

For more information about the vaccine and its distribution in the ACT, visit www.covid19.act.gov.au.

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