Australians living with HIV eligible for COVID-19 vaccine but GPs urge patience


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Photo: Alena Shekhovtcova/Pexels

All Australians living with HIV are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine from next week, but GPs have urged patience after an influx of bookings.

Phase 1b of Australia’s vaccine rollout starts next Monday (March 22), with around 6 million more Australians eligible. Among them are all people living with HIV.

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NAPWHA, the National Association of People with HIV in Australia, has encouraged people to protect their health by getting vaccinated.

NAPWHA explains on its website both COVID-19 vaccines on offer, the Pfizer-BioNTech and Astra-Zeneca jabs, are safe and effective for people with HIV.

Other Australians eligible for a jab during phase 1b include people aged over 70 and Indigenous people over 55.

A range of critical and high-risk workers are also eligible, as are any remaining health care workers.

During Phase 1b, roughly 1,000 GP clinics will start offering vaccinations from Monday. That number will then later climb to 4,000.

GPs urge patience on COVID-19 vaccine appointments

However Queensland’s peak doctors’ body has warned waiting times may take weeks and urged those eligible to be patient.

Dr Bruce Willett is Queensland chair of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP). He explained his own Brisbane practice, for example, is “only receiving 80 vaccines a week”.

Dr Willett also suggested people to stick with their regular GP, who will know and understand their medical history, even if it means a longer wait for the vaccine.

The Australian Medical Association has also urged those now eligible for COVID-19 vaccination to be patient.

AMA Vice President Dr Chris Moy said the community’s enthusiasm was encouraging but described the rollout as “a middle distance race, not a sprint.”

He said “mismatched” communication from the federal government this week had meant GPs had struggled with an influx of bookings.

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Dr Moy stressed all Australians will get access to a vaccine and patients don’t need to book in on the first day.

“We have the advantage in Australia of not having a lot of COVID in the community,” he said.

“So we don’t all have to race to get the shot on day one.”

Dr Moy urged everyone to be kind to receptionists, who are bearing the brunt of the influx of calls.

“Be a little patient and kind as practices set up their vaccine clinics,” he said.

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