GPs boosting COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Hundreds more general practices are preparing to join the national coronavirus vaccination program.
Hundreds more general practices are preparing to join the national coronavirus vaccination program.

The introduction of general practice clinics to the national coronavirus vaccination program has enabled the number of doses delivered to triple in the past couple of weeks.

And that is only likely to improve further as the number of clinics involved doubles from 1500 to 3000 by the end of this week.

"The daily and weekly numbers will continue to rise," acting Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd told reporters on Monday.

Almost 842,000 doses have been administered since the program started more than a month ago, albeit well short of the four million vaccinations originally promised by the Morrison government by the end of March.

The government expects the program will also now speed up with CSL pumping out the AstraZeneca vaccine for domestic use.

Nationals deputy leader David Littleproud has gone from blaming the states for the pace of the vaccine rollout to scolding the European Union for blocking supply.

Mr Littleproud argued Australia had been "badly let down" by the EU.

"This is the biggest vaccination program our country has ever seen and it's important we understand what's happening with it," he told the Nine Network.

"The arithmetic is simple on this. We are three million short because of the EU, who cut us short."

But Labor frontbencher Pat Conroy said the rollout had been plagued by chaos and dysfunction.

Mr Conroy said one of the largest GP clinics in his electorate was set back by several days when a shipment of vaccines was sent to the wrong address.

His electorate is home to 24,000 constituents over the age of 70, who have no clear idea of when they will receive their two doses of vaccinations.

"This isn't about politics," Mr Conroy said on Monday.

"We've got both Labor and Liberal state governments saying the federal government is delivering this in a substandard, unacceptable way."

Meanwhile, the Australian Technical Advisory Group is continuing to meet with colleagues from European medicine and healthcare agencies after a 44-year-old Melbourne man developed blood clots after receiving his AstraZeneca jab.

Professor Kidd said the group is planning to meet on Wednesday this week to further discuss analysis of similar cases in Europe and the UK.

But he said it was important to note from the overseas experience that one to two cases of thrombosis have been recorded in one million people who receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"By contrast, we know that the risk of death from COVID-19 remains at 1 to 2 deaths per 100 people infected," Prof Kidd said.

Australian Medical Association ACT president Antonio Di Dio told reporters that getting vaccinated was a crucial step in tackling this "ghastly illness".

"We are very, very optimistic about the effectiveness of the vaccine and we encourage very strongly all Australians who are eligible to check that eligibility," he said.

A man infected with the South African strain of the virus remains in a critical condition in the Royal Adelaide Hospital.

There were 10 new cases of COVID-19 among returned overseas travellers already in quarantine, but there were no new cases of community transmission anywhere across the country.

Australian Associated Press