From Monday, Australia's rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine will move up a gear, with the start of phase 1b.
The new phase of the vaccine rollout will have more than 6 million people be eligible to receive the jab.
But unlike the first phase of the vaccine, where an invitation was given to people for an appointment, patients eligible for phase 1b of the rollout will have to book their time to get the COVID vaccine at an eligible GP clinic.
Since the announcement of the start 1b, making a booking hasn't been the easiest task, with GP clinics that are part of the rollout recording a surge in calls and demand.
So where does the rollout go from here?
Who can get the jab now?
When Australia's COVID-19 vaccine program began in February, the doses were initially only allocated for front-line healthcare workers, those who work in hotel quarantine, along with staff and residents at aged-care facilities across the country.
So far, more than 255,000 people have received their COVID vaccination.
Phase 1a is expected to include up to 670,000 Australians, but phase 1b is going to be much larger, with the government estimating more than 6.1 million people will be part of this phase.
Those who are now eligible to get the COVID-19 vaccine from Monday include those aged over 80, as well as those aged between 70 and 79. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over the age of 55 will also be included in phase 1b.
Healthcare workers who were not part of the initial rollout will also be included in 1b, along with critical and high-risk workers in areas like defence, police, fire and emergency services and meat processing.
People with a disability or an underlying medical condition will also be included as part of the second phase of the rollout, but they will have to provide proof of their condition in order to be eligible, which can be done either by the government's My Health Record, a declaration form or a referral from a GP.
Where can you get the vaccine?
Unlike phase 1a of the vaccine, where eligible frontline and quarantine workers were invited for a time to receive their dose, those included in 1b will have to book their appointment at a participating GP.
There are more than 1000 GP clinics across the country that will be administering doses during the first week of the 1b rollout.
While the list of clinics taking part in the 1b rollout has been released, further clinics are expected to be added to the list in coming weeks as the program expands further. A full list of participating Commonwealth GP-led respiratory clinics can be found online.That number is expected to grow from 1000 in the first week to more than 4000 in the next four weeks.
If you are getting the vaccine as part of phase 1b, it is most likely you will be receiving the AstraZeneca jab, as most GP clinics do not have the cold storage facilities required to store the doses of the Pfizer vaccine, which needs to be kept below minus 70 degrees before they are administered.
How do you book your vaccine?
Booking for the vaccine can be done through the federal government's vaccine eligibility tracker.
There, people can answer questions about their situation, and if they are eligible for phase 1b, they will be directed to a website to book the vaccine, which will show the nearest clinics and a time to book in there.
However, the website has been plagued with technical issues since it launched to the public on Wednesday, with some people not being able to access the service.
In many instances, the website referred people to call the GP clinics themselves in order to a book a time, which led to many issues.
Why were there issues at GPs?
Due to the demand for people wanting to book a time for a COVID vaccination, GP clinics were inundated with calls.
In some instances, extra staff had to be put on for some clinics to deal with the influx, with some GPs receiving double the number of calls for the entire day by midday.
Some GPs were caught off guard by the federal government's announcement of the start of 1b and were unaware the name of their clinic was placed on the website saying they were part of the rollout from Monday.
In many cases, the doses of the AstraZeneca vaccines hadn't even arrived at the GPs and clinics were unsure as to if they would be delivered in time for the 1b rollout commencement on Monday.
Many patients were told to call back from Monday to schedule a time for their appointment once more certainty was known about the rollout and the number of doses a clinic would receive. It's expected some clinics would receive between 50 and 400 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine each week, depending on the demographics of the area and estimated demand for the vaccine.
What if my regular GP isn't part of the rollout?
While a list of GP clinics being part of the first week of the phase 1b rollout has been released publicly, the list of other clinics being part of the rollout in subsequent weeks has yet to be released.
Due to the demand being placed on GP clinics for the first week of 1b doses, health authorities have urged for people to be patient, saying there would be a chance people's regular GP would be part of 1b later on.
What about the vaccines made in Australia?
So far, all the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines administered in Australia have been manufactured overseas.
However, from later in March, doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine made by CSL in Australia will be made available as part of the rollout.
The local manufacturing of the vaccines will allow the capacity of the vaccine program to be significantly ramped up.
An estimated 50 million doses of the vaccine are set to be made in Australia.
I'm not in 1b, when can I get my vaccine?
People eligible for the vaccine as part of phase 2a and 2b will get their jab later in the year.
You can register your details on the government's vaccine eligibility website to be notified when you will be able to get your dose of the vaccine.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
- Bookmark this website's homepage
- Make sure you are signed up for our breaking and regular headlines newsletters
- Follow us on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook