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Australian General Practitioner Refunds $184 Vaccine Appointment Fees

A Sydney medical clinic that charged non-English speakers for an appointment before their Pfizer jab is giving refunds.

SYDNEY — A general practitioner’s clinic in Sydney’s southwest that charged people hundreds of dollars to receive the Pfizer vaccine appears to be refunding its patients.

But those who paid to receive their vaccine there have been left unsure whether they can get a second dose after the clinic suggested the government would no longer supply it with Pfizer.

Blessed Health Care, which operates two clinics in the Covid-19 hotspot of Campsie, was widely criticized after it was revealed it had charged non-English speakers up to AU$250 ($184) for a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.

The clinic said the charge was for the consultation rather than the vaccine itself. However, Covid-19 vaccines and consults for them are supposed to be free.

“The clinic has now asked for the bank details of those who paid to be vaccinated so that they can be reimbursed,” said Kun HuangCumberland councilor.

“Charging for the vaccine was plain bad behavior, I promise to throw the book at them,” said Greg Hunt, Health Minister. (Lukas Coch/AAP Image)

The Health Department said to the reporters that the National Covid Vaccine Taskforce would work with general practitioners and any affected patients to ensure they were reimbursed.

Huang said hundreds of people had joined a WeChat group for patients who’d paid for vaccine consultations at the clinic.

Now the patients are “desperate” because they don’t know how to get a second shot. Chinese-language signs outside the two clinics last week suggested the government may stop providing the clinic with further Pfizer vaccines.

The sign outside the Evaline St clinic said the government was likely to stop providing Pfizer doses to the clinic because of “false” media reporting but that they would try their best to get enough for the second dose.

At the other clinic, a notice said patients who’d received their first dose there would get their second free of charge if the government provided them.

The clinics said they were no longer accepting new patients. New South Wales Health was asked whether the clinic would receive enough Pfizer to dispense second doses. However, the department did not respond to the question.

“Charging for the vaccine was plain bad behavior,” said Greg Hunt, Health Minister.

“I promise to throw the book at them.”

The Health spokesperson said privacy obligations prevented it from disclosing if any practice was under investigation.

Huang called on the state or federal government “to come out and say how they will get the jab.”

“We need a process here,” he said. “They should be properly refunded and be sure of getting their second dose,” he said.

The receptionist at the Evaline St clinic said, “we are busy,” and immediately hung up when contacted on August 3. The Anglo St clinic was unattended.

Edited by Saptak Datta and Ritaban Misra