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COVID-19 update – 8 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 who 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

For more information join the next RACGP/NSW Health COVID-19 update to hear the latest news about the omicron variant, the efficacy of the vaccines, the role of GPs going forward and how HealthPathways can support GPs in NSW to care for COVID-19 positive patients in the community.

When: Monday, 13 December 2021, 7.00-8.30 pm
Register here

Presenters: Dr Kerry Chant, Dr Amith Shetty, Dr Bettina McMahon, Dr Louise Delaney, Assoc Prof Charlotte Hespe and Dr Wally Jammal.

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.

TGA provisionally approves Pfizer for 5 to 11 year-olds

The TGA has now provisionally approved the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as a safe and effective vaccine for 5 to 11 year-olds. The first shipment of children’s doses is due to arrive in Australia by early January 2022 and will undergo the same rigorous batch testing processes in the TGA laboratories as other batches of COVID-19 vaccines.

Subject to final considerations and recommendations from the vaccination experts on the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), and other related approvals, the Australian Government will start rolling out the Pfizer vaccine to 5 to 11-year-olds from 10 January 2022. Read full media release

Additional training (online module) will be required before general practices can administer the Pfizer vaccine to children.

COVID-19 booster dose intervals 

A booster dose is available to anyone in Australia aged 18 years and over who has completed their primary course of vaccination at least six months ago. The ATAGI has advised that in special circumstances, the six-month interval may be shortened to five months when needed for logistical reasons, for example:

  • for patients with a greater risk of severe COVID-19 in outbreak settings;
  • if an individual is travelling overseas and will be away when their booster dose is due; or
  • in outreach vaccination programs where access is limited.

Providers should use their clinical judgement to determine whether it is appropriate to administer the dose early. It should be noted that there are very limited data on benefit for boosters given prior to 20 weeks after completion of the primary course, and the duration of protection following boosters is not yet known. See full ATAGI clinical guidance on COVID-19 vaccines.

COVID-19 webinars 

  • Live stream update for GPs: The panel will provide latest key updates and answer participants’ questions live about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Get involved by submitting questions and comments! Details: Thursday,  9 December, 11.30 am (AEDT) | Click link to join

Easy Read resources for people with intellectual disability

 The Department of Health has published three new Easy Read resources on the booster dose, third dose and the difference between them. These are useful resources for having conversations with people with intellectual disability, explaining the updated advice on booster dose. The Department of Health has also published an Easy Read Consent Form for use with people with intellectual disability.

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, is 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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