The Australian Government is ensuring the COVID-19 vaccine booster rollout continues at pace, investing over $120 million to support additional financial incentives for General Practice, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services, Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics and community pharmacists providing booster vaccines in time for the summer holiday period.
From 23 December 2021, a booster incentive of $10 will be paid to these health care providers for the administration of booster doses in addition to existing funding they receive.
The additional booster incentive will be available to GPs through a new Medicare Benefits Schedule incentive item and the COVID Vaccination in Community Pharmacy (CVCP) Program.
It recognises the incredible role played by GPs and pharmacies in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine and their efforts to protect Australians by having us among the most vaccinated nations in the world.
Australians trust their GP and they have been a reliable source of important and factual health information as well as providing vaccine doses to millions of Australians throughout the vaccination program in 2021.
Australia’s community pharmacies have also played a vital role in recent months, providing additional trusted, community based services and helping to vaccinate millions of Australians as states work to increase their vaccination capacity back towards previous levels.
The additional funding will provide greater flexibility for practices and pharmacies to run vaccine clinics and to ensure there are sufficient staff available to deliver the doses the public need over the coming period.
The increased fee and the MBS item will be effective for booster doses administered from 23 December 2021 and will remain in place until 30 June 2022.
The Government is also ensuring our senior Australians who depend on aged care services are protected by funding COVID-19 rapid antigen tests (RAT) for Residential Aged Care Facilities and short term restorative care (aged care services) in areas of high prevalence of COVID-19.
RATs will be provided for screening of workers and to anyone who needs to enter a service, including family members when there is an outbreak to protect this vulnerable population.
RAT provide a result in around 15 minutes makes these tests useful in preventing outbreaks through asymptomatic transmission.
Almost 2.9 million RAT tests had been delivered or have been scheduled for delivery from the National Medical Stockpile and more than 700 residential aged care facilities have benefited from the RAT program to date.
RATs play an important role in protective screening and outbreak management when used by aged care workers, residents and visitors to aged care.
Australia has one of the most successful vaccination programs in the world. More than 90 per cent of Australians 16 and over have received at least two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, making Australia one of the most vaccinated nations in the world.
Since the first COVID-19 vaccine was administered on 21 February, more than 41.67 million doses have been administered.
I want to thank our primary care providers for their incredible and unwavering support for the national vaccine program and more broadly in supporting our community during the pandemic.