Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap
The Australian Government is expecting approval of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines by the end of this month, with a rollout to priority groups beginning mid-February. In addition to being able to administer the vaccine when available, healthcare professionals will also be able to receive the vaccine in the following rollout phases:
Frontline at-risk health care workers including staff in GP respiratory clinics and COVID-19 testing facilities, ambulance staff, paramedics, ICU and emergency department staff and clinical and ancillary support staff
Residential aged care and disability care staff
Residential aged care and disability care residents
Quarantine and border workers
|COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-out to RACFs|
|*The information provided in this section is relevant to residential aged care facilities (RACFs). Information relating to general practice and other health providers will be distributed as it becomes available. The Australian Government has commenced the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out across Australia, with RACF residents being among the first who can choose to receive the vaccine. Phase 1a of the vaccine roll-out is due to commence next week in some RACFs, with only the residents of the facilities able to receive the vaccine in the first instance. The Department of Health has released a COVID-19 vaccine aged care readiness toolkit to assist RACFs in planning for the vaccine roll-out and preparing facilities for vaccination. The toolkit includes a Site Readiness Checklist and Written Consent Form.|
Information is available for aged care workers and residents, their families and representatives to help make an informed decision about COVID-19 vaccination.
As with all other vaccines, valid consent is required before administering each COVID-19 vaccine dose.
Workers and residents may choose to talk to a health professional about the benefits and risks of vaccination. This will help to decide if vaccination is suitable.
The following resources will assist in deciding about COVID-19 vaccination:
- Information on COVID-19 Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine
- Preparing for COVID-19 vaccination
- What to expect on vaccination day
- After your COVID-19 vaccination
- Consent form
Consent by a guardian or substitute decision-maker
Some jurisdictions have specific requirements relevant to guardians (or substitute decision-makers) consenting on behalf of another person.
If consenting to participate in the COVID-19 vaccination program on behalf of an aged care resident, refer to the enduring guardianship legislation in your state or territory for more information.
Adults over 70 years
All other health care workers
Begin to vaccinate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
Younger adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability
Critical and high risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing.
|Vaccine eligibility checker|
The vaccine eligibility checker, hosted by healthdirect, is now live.
Users are asked a number of questions relating to age, location, occupation and underlying medical conditions to determine whether they’re currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
If you’re eligible to receive the vaccine under phase 1a, vaccinations will be organised by your employer, or facility where you consult, who will contact you to provide further information on how to receive your vaccination.
Some information for those whose first language isn’t English:
The Department of Health have developed a stakeholder pack for multicultural audiences with information on the COVID-19 vaccines.
The pack contains in-language communication resources and key messages to inform and educate everyone in Australia about the COVID-19 vaccines. Resources in the pack include audio files, videos, social media content, posters and factsheets.
You can also find a letter from Dr Lucas De Toca, Assistant Secretary of the COVID-19 Primary Care Response at the Australian Government Department of Health, about how you can help support in sharing the latest information.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in Australia. The Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be used initially during the Phase 1a rollout. These vaccine doses will be distributed through 30 to 50 key hospital hubs across urban and rural Australia to priority group 1a. Distribution to residential aged care and disability care facilities will be done through a Commonwealth vaccination workforce in-reach program.
Provisional approval of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is currently anticipated in February 2021, subject to regulatory requirements being met. Both vaccines will progressively be distributed through an expanded number of sites, including general practice clinics, existing Commonwealth GP respiratory clinics, state-run vaccination clinics and pharmacies.
|Over-65s and the AstraZeneca vaccine|
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for use in Australia for people 18 years of age and over.The TGA statement notes, ‘There are currently limited data available for the efficacy and safety in individuals over 65 years of age. However, the vaccine has been shown to create an immune response in this group and can be used based on the efficacy and safety demonstrated in the general clinical trial population. The decision to immunise an elderly patient should be decided on a case-by-case basis’.
In his General Practice COVID-19 update newsletter, Deputy Chief Medical Officer Professor Michael Kidd states, ‘There is no requirement for people over the age of 65 to discuss with their GP whether they should or should not have the AstraZeneca vaccine, unless they are very frail and/or rapidly approaching the end of life. Patients who are very frail, or their carers, are advised to discuss any vaccination with their GP’.
Vaccine safety and effectiveness
All vaccines used in Australia must be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). The TGA assesses the safety, quality and effectiveness of vaccines before they are registered for use.
COVID-19 vaccines will be free for everyone living in Australia and the Government has made it clear that COVID-19 vaccination will be voluntary – but it is strongly encouraged. More information about training for health professionals will be available in the coming weeks that will cover vaccine specific information, multi-dose vials, infection control, wastage, and adverse event reporting.
The Department of Health developed a new vaccine website so you can stay informed. This website is regularly being updated with more information as it becomes available. Information will also be available in 63 languages. Subscribe to the COVID-19 vaccines updates to ensure you receive the latest updates available on the website. Thanks to the AMA for all of this – become a member!
PartridgeGP works with you to help you make your best health decisions, and we won’t back away from being your companion, guide, advisor, and sounding board through your health journey. We pride ourselves on great communication and we’re ready to share our professional skills and knowledge with you. This is only MORE important now, in the time of a global pandemic with a new vaccine on the horizon. The way forward is clear: make your appointment with us conveniently online right here – or call our friendly reception team on 82953200.
Better, for you.
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For everyone, we believe that having a usual GP or General Practice is central to each person’s care and recommend that people with any health issues that come to the attention of other health professionals should be advised to attend their usual GP or General Practice rather than a specialised service (ie a place not providing the holistic care a specialist GP would). If they say that they don’t have a usual GP or general practice, they should be helped to find one and to actually attend it. Call PartridgeGP on 82953200 or make an appointment online here.
(Hat tip: Dr Oliver Frank)
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