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COVID-19 update – 15 December 2021

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COVID-19 cases in the region

COVID cases in our region are increasing. Over the past two weeks to 5 December 2021 there have been 954 locally acquired cases in the CESPHN region, a 29% per cent increase over the previous period. The largest concentrations are in the LGAs of Canterbury-Bankstown (158), Sydney (141), Randwick (133), Sutherland (101) and Waverley (100).  The omicron variant of COVID-19 has been detected in our region.

See here for information on the latest testing locations.  Please remember to refer your patients to a GP respiratory clinic if they need a respiratory assessment. You can find contact details here.

COVID care in the community

People who are COVID positive and are assessed by the local health districts as low to medium risk can be managed at home under the care of their usual general practice via telehealth. The processes for managing COVID positive patients in the community are fully outlined in HealthPathways. See links below.

South Eastern Sydney HealthPathways

  • COVID-19 case management full care
  • Post COVID-19 conditions
  • Post COVID-19 specialised assessment

Sydney HealthPathways

  • Updated COVID-19 case management
  • COVID-19 isolation support

Vaccination update

Within the region 87% of the population aged 15 and over have received one vaccine dose and 86% are fully vaccinated (a 1% increase from last week). 13% of the population remain unvaccinated.

Please continue to contact our practice support team via coronavirus@cesphn.com.au should you wish to transfer vaccine. We note many practices have established local arrangements to share vaccine while demand is low.

Vaccinating practices who would like to order smaller doses of Pfizer vaccine are asked to contact the PHN. If you would like to deliver the Moderna vaccine please also contact coronavirus@cesphn.com.au.

General practices and pharmacists are encouraged to review their patients and identify those who are unvaccinated or need a booster dose and arrange COVID-19 vaccination for them.

Schools in our region are being impacted by COVID outbreaks – it’s important that general practice be aware of the COVID-19 response protocols in schools – see Schools and Covid protocol – advice to families

State Vaccine Centre Christmas closure

The NSW Vaccine Centre will be accepting vaccine orders until midday Tuesday 21 December 2021. Deliveries will take place on Wednesday 22 December 2021. Orders placed after this time will be held for despatch from Tuesday 4 January 2022. 

COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 5 to 11 years

The Pfizer vaccine for children is a different formulation from the Pfizer vaccine approved for those aged 12 and over and comes in an orange-capped multidose vial, requires dilution, contains 10 doses per vial, and can be stored for up to 10 weeks at 2°C to 8°C. See product information. ATAGI has made recommendations for the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine in children aged 5 to 11 years. Children will receive 2 doses of the vaccine, 8 weeks apart. The children’s dose is one third of the dose for people aged 12 years and over.

From 10 January 2022, Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program will be extended to all children aged 5 to 11:

  • Bookings will be open on 15 December 2021 using the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder.
  • Appointments will be available from 10 January 2022.
  • Children will be able to receive vaccinations through GPs, state and territory-run clinics, pharmacies, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and Commonwealth Vaccination Centres.

It is anticipated that the Pfizer for children training module will be available in late December 2021. It is essential that all health professional involved in administering this vaccine have completed this module prior to administering the vaccine. Watch NCIRS webinar recording to learn more about COVID vaccines for children aged 5-11 years.

Please note

For the first delivery of the Paediatric Pfizer vaccine:

  • If your practice has already signed the Pfizer Site Readiness Declaration, you can login to the COVID-19 Vaccine Administrative System (CVAS) from Saturday 11 December 2021 and place your first order for Pfizer vaccine for 5 to 11 year olds.
  • If you have not previously signed the Pfizer Site Readiness Declaration, you will be prompted to complete it the next time you login to CVAS and, once signed, you can place your first order.
  • If you are able to receive deliveries in the week ending RDD 7 January 2022, please place your order by midnight Friday 17 December 2021. The Taskforce will contact you if there will be any delays to your delivery.

Important note – Request for an additional order:

  • If you place an order by Friday 17 December 2021, you may request to receive an additional

order through your Primary Health Network (PHNs) by midday AEDT Friday 17 December 2021.

Please email at coronavirus@cesphn.com.au to request an additional order.

PHNs will collate this information and provide this to the Taskforce for consideration.

Please do not make bookings based on these orders until they are confirmed.

To receive your first delivery in the week ending RDD 14 January 2022, please place your order between Saturday 18 December and midnight Friday 24 December 2021. Please note this delivery window differs from the Christmas ordering arrangements.

Note that these RDDs differ from the normal ordering cadence to allow time for batch testing of the first vaccines and to align with available supply.

While the Program is intended to commence from 10 January 2022 (and the estimated RDD of 7 January 2022 will enable that), you can commence administering your vaccines as soon as they are received, as long as you have completed the relevant training.

Please remember to complete a Delivery Acceptance Report the day you receive your vaccine, and a

Stock Management Report every Friday by 9pm.

Orders moving forward:

Your second order will align with the normal fortnightly ordering windows going forward, in which you order in the same week as you receive your vaccine delivery.

Further information:

You do not have to order immediately to retain your allocation. It is recommended that you complete your Pfizer declaration, if you have not done so already, to allow future orders to be placed or to receive excess Pfizer stock.  If you are having difficulty placing an order, please contact the Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) on 1800 318 208.

COVID-19 booster dose intervals

On 12 December, the recommended interval between a second dose COVID-19 vaccination and booster dose has been shortened from six to five months. Given the likelihood of ongoing transmission of both Omicron and Delta variants, ATAGI recommends anyone aged 18 and older receive their COVID-19 booster vaccination five months after their second dose vaccination. See ATAGI’s statement on the Omicron variant and timing of COVID-19 booster vaccination. Timely receipt of a booster dose is particularly important for people with increased exposure risk or who have risk factors for severe disease. Patients can book a booster appointment using the COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Finder or call the dedicated COVID-19 Helpline on 1800 020 080.

Moderna approved for use as a booster dose

 In addition to the Pfizer vaccine, Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine is now also approved for use as a booster dose in people aged 18 years and older. 

  • The dosage for use as a booster dose is 50µg (0.25mL), i.e. half of the recommended dose of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine used for the primary course.
  • The Moderna (50µg) COVID-19 vaccine can be used as a booster dose for people who completed their primary COVID-19 vaccine course 5 or more months ago with a COVID-19 vaccine registered or recognised by the TGA.
  • ATAGI considers the Moderna (50µg; 0.25mL) and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines to be equally acceptable as booster vaccines for all people aged 18 years and older, including pregnant women.
  • Both mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are preferred over the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for the booster dose, including for people who received the AstraZeneca vaccine for their primary course.

The AstraZeneca vaccine is not yet TGA approved as a booster but can be used as a booster for people who have contraindications to mRNA COVID-19 vaccines or who had AstraZeneca for their primary course.

In-language COVID-19 vaccine information packs

The Department of Health has released four more COVID-19 vaccine information packs in Arabic, Assyrian, Chaldean and Mandarin/Simplified Chinese. The information packs include communication resources that provide key COVID-19 vaccines information, such as recent updates to the COVID-19 rollout, information about booster doses, information on pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines, videos featuring community members explaining the importance of getting vaccinated and videos featuring doctors answering questions about COVID-19 vaccines. The kits can be viewed here in ArabicAssyrianChaldean and Chinese.

Free infection control advice

CESPHN is pleased to offer general practices, community pharmacies and allied health the opportunity to have a specialised one-on-one consultation session with an experienced primary care infection control educator. This consult will enable your practice/pharmacy to:

  • Send questions prior to the consultation session about your practice
  • Ask questions on infection control that relates to your practice.

Sessions will be via ‘Zoom’ and will be up to 50 minutes in duration and can be recorded for later use. The aim of these sessions is to support practices and community pharmacies to ensure they have the strongest infection procedures in place and provide tips for improvement where needed. If you would like more information or would like to book a consultation, please email your interest to coronavirus@cesphn.com.au and in the subject line write: “Yes I would like infection control advice”.

Additional PPE available

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) packages including surgical and N95/P2 masks, are available for community pharmacies and those GPs who continue to see their patients within their practices. PPE guidelines can be found here. CESPHN will continue to distribute these supplies. To order PPE for your practice or pharmacy click here.   

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