24 February 2021

Welcome to Club Vax: 4600 EOIs accepted

Clinical COVID-19 General Practice Vaccination

The Department of Health has started notifying thousands of GP practices that they are welcome to participate in the national COVID vaccination program, and that their EOI application has been accepted.

TMR understands that the successful applicants have already received communication from their Primary Health Network, on behalf of the Department of Health, inviting them to take part in administering the AstraZeneca vaccine from as early as next month.

More than 4600 applicants have qualified to participate, even though last week the DoH said it would be only a “handful” initially.

About 5400 general practices submitted an EOI earlier this month, out of more than 6000 accredited clinics.

Health Minister Greg Hunt, at a doorstop interview today, said that initially the government hoped that 1000 practices would participate, a number that was subsequently lifted to over 2000 and then 3000. 

“But with the high uptake from these general practices and the fact that they have been assessed, they have been approved and they are now being notified, over 4600 general practices will be participating in the rollout,” he said.

Simultaneously, the Department of Health has also published the protocols for billing the 16 new MBS item numbers created for COVID vaccination.

The majority of GPs will claim $30.75 for administering the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine to a patient and $24.25 for the second.

And practices will also be entitled to a $10 professional incentive payment for each patient who completes their course of the vaccination at the same clinic.

All of the Medicare items created for the purpose of COVID vaccination must be bulk billed, the Department of Health said on the MBS fact sheet.

From March, GP practices will be able to offer bulk-billed ‘suitability assessments’ where the patient must receive a face-to-face attendance from a GP, or suitably qualified health professional.

All MBS items must be billed under the name of a supervising GP, who must be present at the location at which the vaccine suitability assessment service is undertaken and must accept full responsibility for the service.

But the vaccine can be administered by a GP, a registered nurse or other suitably qualified health professional registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law.

The Department of Health has also confirmed that clinics can provide more than two vaccine suitability assessment services to the same patient, allowing GPs to bill for consults that do not eventuate in the vaccination of that individual on the same day.

“For instance, a patient who is assessed as suitable to receive a COVID-19 vaccine, but who continues to have concerns about the vaccine and wants time to consider if they should receive it, may receive a suitability assessment service without choosing to have a vaccination,” the department said.

“In this situation, even though the patient has not received a vaccination, the appropriate MBS COIVD-19 suitability assessment item may be billed.

“If the patient returns at a later date, having decided that they do wish to receive a vaccination, a further suitability assessment would need to be undertaken, and billed to Medicare using the relevant item number.”