Australia’s doctors say the federal government shouldn’t give unrealistic expectations around the COVID-19 vaccine rollout after GPs were inundated with calls from patients.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has urged for calm amongst patients, pleading with them not to take their frustrations out on health workers.
There have been widespread reports of GP clinics being overwhelmed by calls from “impatient” people trying to book their vaccination appointment.
RACGP President Dr Karen Price said Wednesday was “a very difficult day” for surgeries, partly because of deficiencies in the federal Health Department’s online booking system.
The government on Wednesday released details of the first clinics to deliver the AstraZeneca vaccination.
From Monday, more than a thousand clinics will deliver the vaccine as part of phase 1B of the vaccination program.
“It is clear from the phone calls being made to general practice that the government .. needs to better communicate with the community on the vaccine rollout process, and not build unrealistic expectations, particularly at this early stage,” Dr Price said.
Some patients behaved “in a disrespectful and aggressive manner” towards administrative staff answering the phones.
“I plead with all people to please be respectful when speaking to receptionists and administrative staff managing this huge volume of calls about vaccines on top of their day-to-day presentations,” Dr Price said.
GPs also need assurances about the supply chain of doses well ahead of time in order to match the demand with supply, staffing and practice logistics, she added.