Supply the issue in vaccine rollout

10 Sep 2021

Image of vaccine vials


Transcript: AMA Queensland Council of General Practice Chair, Dr Maria Boulton, 4BC Drive, Wednesday 8 September 2021

Subjects: Vaccine supply and general practice

SCOTT EMERSON:    Queensland’s vaccination rate is falling behind the other states and territories, with 35 per cent of eligible people fully vaccinated and we are running last in terms of people having the first dose, even now behind WA. However, GPs are also frustrated with the lack of supply of the Pfizer vaccine, they’re saying. There are calls for the Federal Government to increase the allocation of vaccines to Queensland with claims GPs are being hampered by limits on vaccine orders. GP Dr Maria Boulton is the chair of the AMA Queensland Council of General Practice and she joins us on the line. Maria, thanks for being on the show.

MARIA BOULTON:  Good afternoon.

SCOTT EMERSON:    Now you say that we’re not receiving enough of the Pfizer vaccines. This is a bit of a debate over the last 24 hours, again between sadly the Federal and Queensland Governments. Yvette D’Ath did say look, we’re not getting our fair share of vaccines, too much is going to other states, particularly New South Wales, and then Greg Hunt came out and said there’s 60,000 doses available, Queensland just hasn’t asked about it. Yvette D’Ath came back and said, look, we didn’t know about them. So what’s your understanding about the status?

MARIA BOULTON:  For us, we’ve never had enough supply of Pfizer and there’s still a lot of GP clinics that are waiting for some supply to arrive. At my clinic, we received an email earlier in the week letting us know that the Pfizer supplies will increase in the next few weeks, and asking us how many we can do. But currently we’re only receiving 150 doses a week.

SCOTT EMERSON:    Greg Hunt said there’s 60,000 available but Queensland hasn’t requested them. So who’s at fault here? Is it the feds, or is it the states? Or is it just the fact that GPs just want the doses, they don’t really care who’s right or wrong on this?

MARIA BOULTON:  Absolutely right. We just want the doses, we don’t care where they come from. We all have a huge wait list to get through and our patients are really really keen to get vaccinated as soon as possible. We’ve been asking for more doses since the start and we still don’t have enough.

SCOTT EMERSON:    What I’ve been hearing about is that, yes, there’s issues of supply of Pfizer, but everyone seems to have tons of AstraZeneca. Do you see a reluctance by Queenslanders to have the AstraZeneca vaccine?

MARIA BOULTON:  In my clinic we have a much younger population than your average clinic and yes, look, there’s been reluctance about AstraZeneca for a while now. And most of our patients are really really keen on Pfizer. We have a lot of young adolescents as well in that 12- to 15-year-old age group and for them, definitely Pfizer is the only choice, and we have many of those in our books.

SCOTT EMERSON:    I’m talking to Maria Boulton, the chair of the AMA Queensland Council of General Practice. I hear what you’re saying about younger patients there, but in terms of AstraZeneca, do you say to anyone under the age of 40, why don’t you get the AstraZeneca rather than Pfizer?

MARIA BOULTON:   Yes, absolutely, and what we say to them is have a conversation with your GP and if you’re happy to go ahead with it, we’re happy to give you a jab.

SCOTT EMERSON:    Are you worried that Queensland is trailing the other states and territories in terms of getting the first jabs out there at the moment, and also on the forecasts we’re seeing, we may be the last state also to reach 80 per cent of double jab vaccinations?

MARIA BOULTON:   Yes, look, it does worry me, and when people ask me about the future, I am so embedded in this race of vaccines and we’re only halfway there. For me at the moment it is very difficult to see the light and I am so so keen – I mean, my staff are working weekends, we’re working early mornings just to get as many jabs done into arms as quickly as possible, and it would be great if we could have more doses just so we can get even more into arms.

SCOTT EMERSON:    Maria Boulton, I appreciate you being on the show.

MARIA BOULTON:   Thank you.

8 September 2021

Published: 10 Sep 2021