National Cabinet met on Monday 19 April and Thursday 22 April to discuss the recalibration of the national COVID-19 Vaccination Program. The following changes have been agreed upon:
bringing forward the commencement of vaccinations for Australians 50 years and older (currently under Phase 2a) to 3 May 2021 for state, territory and Commonwealth vaccination clinics, and 17 May 2021 (or earlier where supply is available) for general practice
limiting use of AstraZeneca vaccines to people 50 years and over`
providing additional AstraZeneca doses to primary care sites
limiting the use of Pfizer vaccine to Australians under 50 years (with a few exceptions) until general availability later in the year as supply increases and this will include Aged Care workers, Disability Care Workers and residents, critical and high risk workers, healthcare workers, and people with underlying medical condition
a progressive geographical expansion of state/territory Pfizer clinics to ensure distribution to those eligible Phase 1a and 1b under 50s; and
expanding the number of Commonwealth and state and territory-operated Pfizer vaccination sites as supplies increase.
National Cabinet reinforced that general practice (including Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services) will continue to be the primary model of delivery for people 50 years and older.
Click here for daily updates on the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out.
Testing for immunity after vaccination
Testing for serological markers of immunity (anti-spike antibodies or neutralising antibodies) to COVID-19 is not recommended. An immune correlate of protection has not yet been established for SARS-CoV-2 infection and therefore serology is not useful in determining whether a vaccinated person is protected against COVID-19.
Billing of MBS COVID-19 vaccination numbers by non-participating practices
All MBS COVID-19 vaccine numbers, including the Suitability Assessment Service numbers, can only be accessed by those practices participating in the Government’s COVID-19 vaccination roll-out.
General practices that are not participating in the vaccination delivery program cannot bill to MBS COVID-19 vaccination numbers. This includes consultations that involve discussing a COVID-19 vaccine.
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has developed advice on the risk-benefit of receiving an AstraZeneca vaccination to assist vaccination providers in supporting patients to make an informed decision.
Below are the latest clinical updates from the Department of Health:
If the process of administering a COVID-19 vaccine is interrupted and the majority of the dose has not been given, repeat the whole dose as soon as possible. If most has been given, repeat dosing is not required. If there is uncertainty around this, it is acceptable to repeat the whole dose.
If an individual contracts COVID-19 between the first and second dose of the vaccine, the second dose of Pfizer should be given a minimum of eight weeks after recovery and the second dose of AstraZeneca should be given a minimum of 12 weeks after recovery. These time periods may be shortened if an individual is very likely to be in contact with cases of COVID-19. In these instances, clinicians may wish to seek advise from a specialist immunisation service.
Click here for further clinical updates and considerations.
Medcast and CESPHN are holding a webinar on Responding to vaccine hesitancy on the front line on 12 May at 7.00 pm.
The webinar will cover the following:
a clinical update on vaccines and latest safety issues from Prof Kristine McCartney (NCIRS)
A GP perspective on the opportunities and challenges with Dr Duncan McKinnon (GP Bega Valley Medical Centre)
Communicating with people about the vaccine with Prof Julie Leask (The University of Sydney)
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