A website designed to allow eligible Australians to book a COVID-19 vaccine appointment at their nearest GP is now live. Here's what you need to know.
The federal government has launched a website that will allow Australians who are eligible under phase 1b of the coronavirus vaccine rollout to book a jab.
From Monday, more than 1,000 general practices across the country will begin offering vaccinations to high-priority groups, including people aged over 70, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 55, adults with underlying medical conditions and critical and high-risk workers, along with health workers not covered in phase 1a.
Those Australians can now use the Department of Health's eligibility tool to book a vaccine appointment at their nearest GP.
The website's launch was overshadowed by reports of technical problems and booking confusion on Wednesday, but Health Minister Greg Hunt insisted it was early days.
"Be calm this morning. This is a process that is going to take some months," he said.
Here's what you need to know.
How does the website work?
The government’s Vaccine Eligibility Checker is designed to help Australians find out when they can receive a COVID-19 vaccine, and to then book an appointment if they are eligible - or to register their interest.
This can be done for yourself or for another person.
The website also includes a list of the general practices that will be offering appointments (more on this later).
What information do I need?
You'll start by needing your age, the state or territory you are in and whether you work in one of the following industries: quarantine and borders, frontline healthcare or residential aged care or disability care.
You might be asked if you work in high-risk or critical industries, including defence, police, fire, emergency services, meat processing, government officials deployed overseas, or workers manufacturing or distributing COVID-19 vaccines. You'll need to provide proof of occupation before you receive your vaccination.
You may also be asked if you are a resident of an aged care or disability care facility, if you are a person with a disability, if you are Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander or whether you have an underlying medical condition.
All of this information will determine whether you're already eligible for a vaccine, under phase 1a of the rollout, or whether or not you're eligible under phase 1b.
If you are ineligible for these phases, you can request to be notified when you can access a vaccine.
If I'm eligible, how do I book an appointment?
Services will come online from 22 March, when more than 1,000 GPs, over 100 Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and 130 GP-led respiratory clinics will start to have appointments available, according to the government.
To make a booking, you can enter your postcode or town into the 'Vaccine Clinic Finder' to search for your nearest listed GP. This will bring up a list of the nearest clinics, or those with the earliest available bookings, that will link through to either their phone number or online booking system to make an appointment.
Announcing the website’s launch, Mr Hunt acknowledged the number of available appointments would at first be limited.
“Appointments on the service finder will increase as general practices establish their systems and vaccine supply. More appointments will become available as more clinics come onboard,” he said.
The number of clinics is expected to grow from 1,000 to more than 4,000 by the end of April, according to the government.
"If you can’t find an online appointment here right now, please come back in a week or two and check again," the website says.