The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health
15 June 2020
INTERVIEW WITH BEN FORDHAM
Topics: COVID-19 vaccine rollout;
I think this is a great idea. To speed up the vaccine rollout, GPs will start vaccinating vulnerable Aussies in their own homes. The Federal Government will enlist doctors to visit the elderly and people with a disability, so they’ll get the jab in the comfort of their own home instead of trekking out to the GPs clinic or the vaccination hub.
The Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt is on the line. Good morning to you Minister.
And good morning Ben.
So, when will this kick off?
So, as of yesterday we’ve approved the ability for GPs to be able to visit people in aged care homes, people who are at home who are frail or immobile in some way. So, that’s been activated.
We’re still encouraging as many people as possible to visit their doctor or to visit the Commonwealth or state clinics, but we’re very focused on making sure that everybody has the opportunity to be vaccinated.
Have people got access afterhours? Because Carol called earlier saying it’s too hard for her to go to a clinic and get a jab because they’re only open during business hours. And during business hours, she’s at work.
So there are many clinics which are open for longer hours and also on weekends. That’s a combination of the state clinics, the Commonwealth, what are called GP respiratory clinics, and many of the general practices are holding Saturday or Sunday clinics or afterhours clinics.
But what this also does is for people who are frail and unable to move, they may not be in a residential aged care facility – or they might – then the potential opens up for GPs to be able to join them.
And what we’re doing is, we obviously paid for each vaccination, but there’s effectively a home visitation payment for GPs on top of that. And that means that people can get the vaccination for free. But for those that are immobile, the options are opened up.
Yeah, the GPs will receive about $50 for each jab they give.
Correct. So, for- if a GP does two jabs, they get $65 – so, the first and second doses. But for every visit either to an aged care home or to a disability home or to an elderly people who’s frail and immobile, they get a $56.75 call-out fee on top of that.
So, it’s a significant fee but it’s appropriate and fair to help encourage the GPs with their time. And it just adds the options for people to be vaccinated.
I’ve got to say, people have done an amazing job. As of Sunday night – so, on yesterday’s figure – over- well over 5.8 million doses and over 5 million Australians have had first doses, or 23.9 per cent of the population. So, we’ll continue to encourage people to come forward and be vaccinated.
We’re talking to Greg Hunt, the Federal Health Minister. I’m keen to get your thoughts on this call from the AMA in WA.
The boss of the AMA in Western Australia, Andrew Miller says people over the age of 50 should be offered the Pfizer to combat vaccine hesitancy.
So, what we do here is we follow the advice of arguably one of the world’s leading vaccine advisory groups, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. And they’ve provided the advice we’ve got.
As the year goes on, we’ve said that we want everybody to be vaccinated at the earliest possible time, and that’s strong, clear, consistent medical advice. But as I reaffirmed yesterday, during the course of the year we have significant volumes of AstraZeneca for the over 50s, and we also have whole of population volumes for other vaccines such as Novavax and Pfizer and significant volumes of Moderna, which will come on later on in the year.
They’re already being rolled out to the appropriate age group. So we’ll follow that advice. And I respect the fact that there are different views from different people. But we have one national advisory body, which is a world leading body.
Considering we’ve ordered 51 million doses of Novavax, you’d be happy with the latest trials showing it’s more than 90 per cent effective?
These are very heartening results for Australia. And so when you think of our program, we have the AstraZeneca and Pfizer as the backbone this year, which will be supported by Moderna. Novavax is there both as a backup for this year, but also as a potential booster for next year.
We’ve been presuming all along that we have to prepare if this is a multi-year program around the world. And so we’re in a strong situation. We’re covered for 2021, for 2022 if necessary. And we’ve also put in place a national expression of interest program for firms to manufacture the mRNA vaccines in Australia.
So we have a range of different options. And when you look around the world and you see the situation of the world and you compare Australia, it just reminds us that due to the hard work of so many people who were acknowledged yesterday with honours, but every Australian, we are in a strong situation.
But the more who can be vaccinated, the earlier they can come forward, the more they can protect themselves and everybody.
I know you’re saying 6 million people have now received their first dose, 5.8 million have had both. You’d also acknowledge.
No, no- just to correct- sorry, 5.8 million all up have had vaccinations and 5 million individuals have had a first dose.
Okay. You would acknowledge there are plenty of people still waiting, though, right?
Oh, sure. This is a national vaccine program that runs during the course of the year. And what we see is that, you know, as the supply comes in, it’s made available. The states are doing a tremendous job on that front, the GPs and the Commonwealth clinics.
As of last week, we’d offered first doses in 100 per cent of aged care facilities around the country and second doses have come around in 94 per cent of those. And so on all of these fronts, what we’ve done is prioritise according to supply and the risk of individuals.
And we’ll continue to roll this out during the year. But as your eligibility comes up, if you can come forwards, please keep doing it.
We appreciate your time. Greg Hunt, thanks for joining us.
Thanks very much, Ben.
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.