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Southern general practices keen to be part of the COVID-19 vaccine programme: WellSouth survey

Thursday 08 April 2021

 General practices across the Southern region want to help deliver COVID-19 vaccinations to patients and whānau, according to a survey of practice staff in Otago and Southland.

 WellSouth Primary Health Network surveyed practice teams on their views of the rollout in Southern, asking if they want to be involved in the COVID-19 vaccination programme, what their experiences have been with the rollout so far, and whether they are receiving enough information about the plan for the rollout.

 More than 75% of respondents said general practices should have a role to play - 33% stating they would like to vaccinate their own patients first and then other patients, 22% saying they would vaccinate their own patients only, and 20% responding they would vaccinate anyone wanting the vaccine.  

The main barrier to vaccinating in general practice was the practicalities of storing the vaccine. If a local solution could be developed then more practices would be happy to vaccinate.

 The survey was sent via email on Thursday 01 April and results compiled based on responses received by 9am Wednesday, 7th April. There were 68 responses from 33 general practices across the region, with urban and rural areas represented. GPs accounted for 31% of respondents, 25% were practice managers, and 19% from nurses.

Other results:

  • Asked to rank the rollout on a scale of 1 to 10, respondents gave Southern’s programme an average score of 4.3. Challenges with booking appointments and delays in receiving confirmation were the biggest issues cited by responders, while others stated that general practice teams should have a higher priority for the vaccines as they are the main workforce conducting Covid swabbing.
  • Nearly all respondents ( 95%) acknowledged receiving Southern Health’s daily email Southern’s Covid-19 Vaccination Roll Out Update, and a vast majority (78%) of those consider the information accurate and relevant.
  • Respondents indicated that they would like a more detailed timeline about the vaccination programme and the rollout, as well as more certainty around what the role of general practices will be in the vaccination programme, allowing time for practices to plan ahead.


Clarity and certainty

The survey results and comments are no surprise to WellSouth CEO Andrew Swanson-Dobbs, who says the sentiments are consistent with what he’s been hearing from general practices for months.

“Many practices want to be involved in providing the Covid vaccine, their teams have the knowledge, skills, and staff to deliver the programme and, while they really appreciate the information they’re receiving, they’d like certainty and clarity - a better idea of the overall plan for this region,” he says.

 Andrew says WellSouth plans to continue to survey practices regularly, capturing their views as the Covid-19 vaccination rollout moves ahead and more cohorts and parts of the Southern region have access to the vaccine.

 “We support the work of Southern DHB and the Ministry of Health in the vaccine rollout. Queens Park Medical and Mornington Health Centre have delivered the vaccine programmes at the ports and WellSouth has provided staff, advice and other resources. We will continue to provide support wherever we can and we’ll also continue to advocate for practices and represent their views in the planning process.

 “General practices deliver vaccines all the time – including annual influenza vaccines. They know what to do and feel like they’re a valuable resource that can be put to better use to deliver the Covid19 vaccine, especially outside the urban areas.”

 Covid-19 vaccine rollout in Southern

 The rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in Southern began in early March with the vaccination of port workers – part of the Group 1a and 1b cohort - at Bluff, Tiwai, and Port Chalmers - followed by their household contacts. Vaccinations for Group 2a and 2b, which includes frontline healthcare workers, including general practices teams, started on 29 March at clinics in Dunedin and Invercargill.

 Border workers and their household contacts along with Groups 2a and 2b will be vaccinated at clinics in Queenstown beginning Saturday 10 April and in Te Anau on Wednesday 14 April. Other clinics are expected to follow for the Group 2a and 2b in Central Otago locations starting the week of 17 April.


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