Melbourne doctor Shea Wilcox estimates he could be vaccinating at least 200 people a day but, instead, the mass vaccination clinic he set up himself sits empty most of the time.
The Brunswick East GP has been battling hard to get his hands on enough AstraZeneca doses.
He has been receiving 100 doses a fortnight, a figure well short of both his estimated capacity and community demand.
“First of all, we ran through all our vaccines on the first day,” he said.
“The demand is huge, however we cannot get the vaccine doses that we need.”
Dr Wilcox said many GPs set up vaccination facilities some time ago, anticipating a major role in Australia’s vaccination rollout only to find themselves hamstrung by dose supply.
“It’s not a lack of people available to give a dose that’s the issue,” he said.
“There just doesn’t seem to be any vaccine dosages around. It’s frustrating.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Monday the Commonwealth was working to get the supplies it had available to the places where they were needed the most.
The federal government will receive 53.8 million doses of AstraZeneca, 50 million of which is being manufactured in monthly batches at the CSL factory in Melbourne.
Australia has secured 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, with the bulk expected to arrive in the final three months of 2021.
Dr Wilcox said in addition to tight supplies, GPs were facing a shift in attitudes towards the AstraZeneca vaccine in the wake of changed medical advice earlier this month.After a rare blood-clotting syndrome was linked to AstraZeneca, the Pfizer vaccine became preferred for Australians aged under 50.
AstraZeneca can still be used for that age group if the benefits outweigh the risks and the person can make an informed choice.
Dr Wilcox said he understood why, when community transmission was virtually non-existent in Australia, people were willing to “sit back and wait” on the AstraZeneca vaccine.
“However, if there’s a community breakout, it would be a shame for everybody to say, I really wish we’d all been vaccinated,” he said.