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Moderna vaccines from Europe arrive in Australia

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The Moderna shipment arrived in the country on Friday night, with a second expected soon after.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the Moderna doses meant more GP clinics would be able to administer the vaccine to the public.

“These are very important because they simply provide not only more vaccines, but more points of access for Australians everywhere,” the minister said.

“My hope is that everybody who has not yet taken the vaccine will come forward over the coming days and weeks and there is sufficient vaccine for every Australian before the end of October, if not slightly earlier.”

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New data shows the inclusion of telehealth consolations as part of Medicare in response to the pandemic has contributed to bulk billing rates being at an “all time high”.

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Almost nine out of 10 visits to the GP in 2020-21 were bulk billed with no out-of-pocket cost to the patients, the federal health department says.

A total of 377.2 million medical services were bulk billed to Medicare over the period, 34.1 million more than in the previous year.

The inclusion of telehealth consultations was designed to limit disease spread in the community by reducing the number of people leaving the house and mixing in waiting rooms.

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GPs provided 38 million consultations via phone and 769,543 via video over the last 12 months.

The temporary telehealth items represented just under a quarter of GP consultations and almost 10 per cent of all Medicare services in 2020-21.

The figures follow the latest national cabinet meeting on Friday afternoon, during which the vaccine rollout was the major talking point.

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The national plan to transition away from lockdowns once vaccination targets are reached was also discussed, along with updated Doherty Institute modelling and the situation in virus-affected jurisdictions.

The most recent federal figures showed Australia is now at 70.5 per cent of over 16s having received their first vaccine dose, while more than 45 per cent are fully immunised.

However, the figures for young age groups remain significantly lower, with just 22 per cent of 25 to 29-year-olds and 19 per cent of 20 to 24-year-olds being fully vaccinated.

Meanwhile home quarantine trials are set to begin for fully vaccinated returning Australians.

The four-week trial will see 175 people who have received two vaccine doses spend seven days in quarantine at home, rather than two weeks in a hotel.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said he wanted to see home quarantine as soon as possible to allow more fully vaccinated people to return to Australia from overseas.

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