A GP clinic in Sydney is being heavily criticised after reports emerged on Thursday afternoon it was charging a consultation fee to administer the Covid-19 Pfizer vaccine.
According to an ABC report, Blessed Health Care in the Sydney suburb of Campsie has been caught asking patients to pay up to $250 for a “vaccination consultation” on their first visit prior to getting the jab. Following the initial appointment, the cost of a consultation for the second dose could set you back $120.
Blessed Health Care has since told the ABC there had been a misunderstanding and that “while the vaccine was free, it was charging a consultation fee as any other private practice would” to see patients.
The move has angered Health Minister Greg Hunt, who said his department is looking into the matter.
“This is plain, bad behaviour,” he said, ABC reports.
“If this story is accurate, we’ll throw the book at them. The reason why is very simple, the vaccine is free. The consultation for the vaccine is paid to be bulk billed.
“We’ve invested very significantly, the figure is $10 billion, in the Australian vaccine rollout. That includes free vaccines for every Australian and free consultations.”
Cumberland councillor Kun Huang has also weighed in on the matter, saying the desperation to get vaccinated and apprehension around the AstraZeneca vaccine “has created a black market for the Pfizer vaccine”.
“This kind of behaviour is not unique, and I’m sure there are other places also have a similar problem,” he wrote on Facebook. “We need the federal and state Government to step up their effort in securing more Pfizer vaccine for the community and also educate in community languages around the degree of risk for AstraZeneca vaccine.
“The government also need to ensure the victims of unethical behaviour is compensated by a refund and have the opportunity to get their second dose of Pfizer vaccine. We are all in this together, no one should be poorer for wanting to be safe.”
The news story has attracted a slew of angry comments from fellow Aussies on social media, with one commenting: “Should have had the practice shut down.”
Another said: “This is disgusting behaviour!” While a third wrote: “Absolutely disgusting. I hope they have to refund all of these poor people.”
Starts at 60 has contacted the Department of Health for comment.