COVID-19 update – 23 June 2021

23 June 2021


NSW COVID-19 outbreak

There are now cases of COVID-19 linked to the Bondi cluster. Click here for all the latest information relating to the NSW outbreak including case locations and alerts. There are many venues listed across the region with concentrations in Bondi Junction, Vaucluse, Sydney city and Drummoyne.

See here or check our website for information on the latest testing locations within the region. Numerous new pop-up clinics have been established and anyone with symptoms or who has been to identified case locations should get tested.

 PPE guidelines were amended on 10 June and can be found here. To order masks for your practice click here.  We are also doubling mask orders to ensure general practice and other primary care providers have adequate masks for their practice.

We would also like to remind all general practices of the importance of encouraging those aged 60 and over to receive the Astra Zeneca vaccine and for those who have had their first dose with no serious adverse events to come back for their second dose to ensure greater protection from COVID-19.

CESPHN webinar: 30 June

Join us for a one-hour webinar next Wednesday 30 June at 7.00 pm on the COVID-19 outbreak and key challenges. Speakers will include Dr Vicky Sheppeard, Acting Director South Eastern Sydney Public Health Unit, providing the latest information on the current outbreak, and Dr Brendan Goodger from CESPHN providing an update on the vaccine rollout in this region.

Click here to register. 

Revised recommendations regarding AstraZeneca

On 17 June, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation announced new recommendations relating to the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Pfizer is now the preferred vaccine for those aged 16 to under 60 years (previously 50 years). The recommendation has been revised due to the higher risk and observed severity of thrombosis and thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) related to the use of AstraZeneca in Australia in the 50-59 age group. 

People aged 50-59 who are booked for their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine should be offered the Pfizer vaccine instead of AstraZeneca. All people who are offered AstraZeneca should be advised of the risk of TTS, the symptoms to watch out for in the 4-30 days post-vaccine and when to seek medical advice.

Symptoms of TTS include new onset of:

  • Persistent headaches with or without changes in vision, other focal neurology or seizure-like activity
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Leg swelling or pain with or without associated colour change
  • Chest pain and/or shortness of breath (without a clear alternative cause)

The full statement can be found here.

COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine roll-out

 Following the recent Expression of Interest, 80 general practices will begin administering the Pfizer vaccine in the region over the next month. We expect additional practices to commence administering the vaccine in the coming months as vaccine supply increases.

New MBS patient assessment items

 From 18 June 2021, the Australian Government introduced two new MBS (10660 and 10661) to support General Practitioners and Other Medical Practitioners to provide in-depth clinical assessments of patients aged 50 years and over regarding patients’ individual health risks and benefits associated with receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

  • MBS items 10660 and 10661 may only be claimed where a GP or OMP attends to a patient in person for more than 10 minutes.
  • The item must be billed in association with a relevant MBS COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessment item.
  • Consistent with the other MBS vaccine suitability assessment items, items 10660 and 10661 must be bulk-billed

Further information on the In-depth Patient Assessment items is provided in theItem descriptors and Fact Sheet.

Addressing vaccine hesitancy 

 The Conversation published an article last week with some helpful statistics and graphics that may be useful in discussions with patients around vaccine hesitancy.

“Two people in Australia have died from TTS after 3.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine delivered. This makes the likelihood of dying from this syndrome about 0.5 in a million, or if you prefer whole numbers, about 1 in 2 million.”

The below graph shows the risk of dying from a TTS blood clot after a dose of AstraZeneca, compared to the risk of death from activities such as a car accident or lighting strike.

20210623 Covid graph