ProCare, New Zealand’s largest network of primary healthcare professionals, has welcomed the government’s announcement that it has purchased an additional 4.7 million doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for delivery.
However, the organisation is calling for an urgent update on when booster shots will be available for general practice staff as ‘throughout next year’ isn’t the detailed level of information practitioners are looking for.
Bindi Norwell, Group Chief Executive at ProCare says: “Most general practice staff across the country were included in the Group 2 roll out of the Pfizer vaccine back in late February/early March. With evidence suggesting that the immune response from the Pfizer vaccine wanes over time, we are deeply concerned that many of our front-line general practice staff are potentially exposed as it is now eight months since they received their two doses. More importantly a booster helps prevent them from passing on COVID to their patients.
“A significant portion of our general practice workforce are over the age of 60, and feedback from across our network is that they seek clarity on when the booster shot will be approved so they can plan effectively and have continuity in keeping themselves, their staff and patients protected. With case numbers growing and an uplift in patients being cared for in the community, you can understand their concerns in light of COVID actively circulating in the community,” she continues.
“Informing our clinicians who have been working day and night to protect their patients that this will happen ‘throughout next year’ isn’t the level of detail they are looking for. What we need is clarity from the government with urgency,” points out Norwell.
“We look forward to working with the Ministry around effective planning for the rollout of booster vaccines for healthcare workers, she continues.”
Dr Allan Moffitt, Clinical Director at ProCare echoes Norwell’s sentiments: “Most days we receive a number of questions from general practitioners around when their booster shot will be available. One doctor recently contacted me saying he is considering closing his practice until he receives his booster vaccination and others are threatening to use ‘leftover’ doses at the end of the day in order to protect themselves.
“I’m sure these are situations we’d all like to avoid seeing,” says Moffitt.
“Given that we have the capacity and availability of vaccines right now, would it not be best to get started on giving booster shots to Group 1 and 2 recipients now? Leaving it to next year when we are likely going to be busy with vaccinating 5-11 year olds does not make sense,” he continues.
“Therefore, we are looking for an urgent decision from the Ministry regarding booster doses for front line general practice staff so that we can move forward with ensuring measures are in place for them to receive the protection they need,” he concludes.
ProCare has written to both the Health Minister and Director General of Health seeking an urgent response on behalf of the general practices and healthcare professionals it serves.
For more information please contact:
Dee Crooks, Director of Brand and Communications email@example.com or 022 0310 380.
About ProCare - ProCare is New Zealand’s largest network of family doctors (GPs), nurses, general practice teams and healthcare professionals providing community-based healthcare to more than 800,000 people across the greater Auckland region. As New Zealand’s largest Primary Health Organisation we represent 167 practices serving the largest Pacific and South Asian populations enrolled in general practice in New Zealand and the largest Māori population in Tāmaki Makaurau. For more information go to www.procare.co.nz