It’s no secret that Australia’s vaccine rollout has been poorly managed which is probably why a lot of the country is facing more lockdowns while the rest of the world opens up.
After a National Cabinet meeting on the 28th of June the Australian Government decided it was a good idea to vaccinate all Australians as quickly as possible (umm, ya think?). Out of that has come the decision to give all Aussies access to the AstraZeneca vaccine, regardless of age.
Like everything with the vaccine rollout, the announcement has been met with much confusion. Let’s try and break down the situation.
Which COVID-19 vaccine can I get?
The National Cabinet is establishing an indemnity scheme for GPs to provide Australians with advice regarding their COVID-19 vaccine – in particular relation to the AstraZeneca jab.
The specific terms laid out in the media statement read:
National Cabinet noted that GPs can continue to administer AstraZeneca to Australians under 60 years of age with informed consent and that this measure will provide confidence to medical practitioners to administer both AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines to Australians.
The current medical advice states that the Pfizer vaccine is the preferred jab for Australians under 60 years of age. This has made the vaccine rollout even slower because Australia doesn’t have the means to manufacture an mRNA vaccine, like Pfizer, locally.
The AstraZeneca vaccine has been linked to an extremely rare risk of blood clotting in younger people which has shifted the medical advice since its initial approval.
This new indemnity scheme means Aussies under 60 can now be given the AstraZeneca jab by their GP, provided they give consent.
When Prime Minister Scott Morrison addressed the media he outlined that:
If you wish to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, then we would encourage you to go and have that discussion with your GP and we’ve already made announcements to support those additional consultations with GPs so you can have that conversation.
The vaccine’s current rollout phase is available to those 40 and above, so this basically means anyone under 40 can go to a GP and get the AstraZeneca vaccine, right?
“If they wish to go and speak to their job or their doctor and have access to the AstraZeneca vaccine, they can do so,” the Prime Minister said.
For the record, the medical advice still states that the Pfizer vaccine is preferred for those under 60, but you can now make an informed decision yourself if you want the AZ.
That’s about where the specifics end.
Where can you get a COVID-19 vaccine?
The new scheme means GPs are now legally covered when administering the AstraZeneca, so it stands to reason if you want that jab you can book a consultation with your doctor to get it.
If you don’t have a regular GP you should be able to book in with any local medical practice (provided they are administering COVID-19 vaccines), have the discussion and get vaccinated.
The vaccine is provided by the Australian Government for free, meaning you won’t be out of pocket for the jab. However, it’s currently unclear whether these GP appointments to ‘discuss’ the vaccine will also be covered outside of bulk billing.
This is an evolving announcement so expect more specifics on the situation in the coming days.
Why should you get the jab?
Well apart from, you know, not getting COVID-19 and keeping yourself and your loved ones safe, there are a number of incentives to get the vaccine.
For starters, there are hints that travel will not be available for those who aren’t fully vaccinated. Qantas boss, Alan Joyce, has previously hinted that the airline may adopt a vaccine passport system meaning only vaccinated travellers will be eligible to fly.
To encourage travellers to get the jab, the airline is rolling out an incentive program in July, which includes unlimited travel for a whole year. Other airlines like Virgin Australia are also following suit.
Changes in regulations have given local businesses the go-ahead to offer rewards to vaccinated patrons in a bid to help promote the jab, so it won’t be long before incentives are everywhere.
While the news is still evolving around the availability of AstraZeneca, this is the closest many Aussies have been to getting a vaccination since the pandemic began.
We’ll keep you posted as more information about these new vaccine changes comes to light.