Regional GPs say they are getting swamped with enquires about COVID-19 vaccinations as clinics work through the “once in a century” process of preparing for a mass vaccine rollout.

Key points:

  • 4,500 general practices are taking part in phase 1B of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout
  • Hawkins Medical Clinic is prepared to do 1,000 vaccinations a week but has only been allocated 50 doses a week at this stage
  • The shortfall means the clinic would not meet the government’s requirements

While GPs have been trained to deliver the vaccine, some practices are anxious about the number of doses they expect to receive.

Mount Gambier GP Scott Milan works at the Hawkins Medical Clinic, chosen as one of the more than 4,500 general practices taking part in phase 1B of the rollout.

Dr Milan said with several thousand patients to vaccinate in stage B, it means the clinic would not meet the government’s requirements.

“Our biggest concern’s the number of vaccines that we’ve got,” Dr Milan said.

“Just in the eligible stage 1B patient load for our clinic we’re probably looking at about 7,000 patients and our allocation so far has been 50 vaccines a week.

“We don’t know if it will be getting ramped up or not afterwards. We’re geared up to do 1,000 a week, although we just can’t source those supples at the moment.

Instead, he directed people to keep across the government and clinic websites with an online booking system expected to be operating soon.

SA Pathology nurse Deb Turner was the first person to receive the Pfizer vaccine in the Limestone Coast.(

ABC South East SA: Becc Chave


Phase 1B will include people aged over 70 years old, other healthcare workers, younger adults with an underlying condition, and high-risk workers like emergency services personnel and meat processing workers.

A ‘complicated exercise’

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners president Karen Price said approved clinics had completed mandatory training to deliver the vaccine.

She said while some clinics would receive smaller vaccine allocations, it meant many were able to use their existing storage fridges.

“Because it’s going out more broadly, probably clinics are getting a bit less than what they wanted in some cases. But in other cases, it makes it a bit more manageable,” Dr Price said.

She said a national booking system was planned which would benefit those whose regular GP was not participating in the rollout.

GPs are urging the community to refrain from making enquiries about the vaccines during early stages of the roll-out.(

ABC South East SA: Becc Chave


“The minister and our rural faculty are looking closely to make sure that all of the remote and regional areas of Australia will be supplied with the capacity to roll out this vaccine,” she said.

In the south-east of SA, the Limestone Coast Health Network will coordinate vaccine delivery to approved GP clinics.

The network’s executive director Elaine Pretorius said as both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines had different storage requirements, the delivery would be “bespoke” to the needs of each site.

“We have to be really careful when we’re moving the vaccine from our freezer in Mount Gambier to our outer sites, that we’re maintaining the cold storage, that we’re not sending too much because then we’re going to waste our vaccine,” Dr Pretorius said.

She asked people to be patient with the rollout.

“Once phase 2 commences I think the relationship between the GPs, the pharmacies, and the health service is going to be very important because I suspect that we will be negotiating with each other, the numbers, and who’s going to be doing that vaccine.”