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COVID-19 weekly update – 31 August 2022

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COVID-19 cases in the region

Over the last four weeks there were 18,411 cases of COVID in the region, and over the last week there has been a very significant and welcome decrease of 14 249 cases – however please continue to urge vigilance and maintain adherence to infection control protocols.

Please note that the actual number of cases is likely to be much more. For further information please go to the latest NSW COVID statistics.

Infection control and wearing masks (staff and patients) is critically important. Practices are asked to ensure that their most vulnerable populations are fully vaccinated and where possible to ensure children with respiratory illnesses get access to care. If you would like an infectious control consultation or any other support, email coronvirus@cesphn.com.au

COVID at Home visiting service

We encourage GPs to refer to the COVID@Home Service which provides an ‘in-home’ assessment service delivered by a Registered Nurse with the support of a GP.

This service is for COVID positive patients whose regular GP is not able to undertake home visits but where such a visit is required for medical and other support reasons while the patient is isolating. Referrals will only be accepted from GPs. Find out more about the service and how to refer. If you have any enquiries, contact coronavirus@cesphn.com.au.

Novavax vaccine for adolescents aged 12-17 years

ATAGI has recommended the use of Novavax for adolescents aged 12-17 years for their primary course of COVID-19 vaccination. The recommended primary course dosing schedule for Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is 2 doses, 8 weeks apart.

From 5 September 2022, bookings can be made via the Vaccine Clinic Finder. Sites may commence administering Novavax to this population immediately if they have appointments and stock available.

Novavax is not registered by the TGA for use as a booster dose in adolescents aged 12-17 years, however ATAGI have advised that Novavax can be used as a booster in this age group if no other COVID-19 vaccine brand is suitable for that person. See ATAGI recommendations on the use of a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine

Moderna 6 months to under 5 years – Latest resources

Training module available:

On 26 August 2022, the new training module for Moderna (SPIKEVAX) 6 months to under 5 years was launched via the COVID-19 Vaccination Training Program website. To access the new module (3.b), learners will need to:

  • link their profile to a registered site administering the new vaccine
  • complete the core modules
  • complete the preceding Moderna 3. and 3.a modules.

Consent form available:
The Moderna 6 months to under 5 years information and consent form provides key information about COVID-19 vaccines for parents and guardians of children aged 6 months to 5 years.

COVID-19 reference chart updated:
The COVID-19 vaccine comparison A3 poster was updated 26 August 2022 to include Spikevax (Moderna) Primary Course (6 months – 5 years).

COVID-19 treatments for First Nations people 30 years +

Your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients may be eligible for COVID-19 treatments.

Eligibility for oral treatments if you test positive for COVID-19, and are:

  • 70 years or older, regardless of risk factors, and with or without symptoms
  • 50 years or older with 2 additional risk factors
  • Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander person, 30 years or older and with 2 risk factors.

A prescription is necessary if they are eligible.

Watch a video on the Department of Health and Aged care website with Dr Lucas de Toca about COVID-19 oral treatments, including who is eligible, when to take them, and how to access them in rural or remote areas.

Resources to share on your social media platforms

  • A suite of social media tiles in multiple languages to share on your platforms to promote that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children. This language set contains translations of a social tile that explains that COVID-19 vaccines are safe for children.
  • collection of videos have been developed in Auslan, explaining Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout.
  • A suite of COVID-19 social and emotional wellbeing resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples has been developed.

Over the past couple of years, a lot of us have faced major challenges that have had a significant impact on our mental health and wellbeing.

This includes separation from family, friends and local community, experiences of financial uncertainty or job losses, or not being able to conduct ceremonies in the ways they have always been practised.

To highlight the importance of mental health and support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders’ social and emotional wellbeing, the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care has developed a suite of resources.

The Keep Your Spirit Strong communications project aims to help Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders to prioritise their social and emotional wellbeing.

Resources including video animations, social content and images, and case studies are available here.

Head to Health also has information and resources on supporting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

Covid Risk Calculator: a tool to address vaccine concerns

The Covid Risk Calculator (CoRiCal) is a tool to help people who are not sure about getting the COVID-19 vaccines. The tool calculates the chances of getting sick or dying from COVID-19 based on age and sex, and it also calculates the chances of developing certain rare conditions (eg TTS or myocarditis) from the vaccines. The risk is displayed as either “risk per million people” or “risk as a chance” – a one in x chance.

Free infection control advice on Zoom

CESPHN is offering specialised one-on-one Zoom consultations with an experienced primary care infection control educator to assist with infection control procedures.

GPs should consider facilitating either telehealth or in person consultation for patients with respiratory symptoms. When in person consultation is indicated, the patient should be given a surgical mask and hand sanitiser and practice staff should wear eye protection and a mask.

To book a session, email coronavirus@cesphn.com.au with the subject line: “Yes I would like infection control advice”.

CESPHN Vax at Home service

The CESPHN Vax at Home Service is for those people who are housebound and not able to leave their house to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or booster. The service will accept referrals for people 16 years and over. Referrals will be accepted from GPs and from Local Health Districts. Patient self-referrals will not be accepted.

All referrals must be sent through this Vax at Home Service Online Form. Please also indicate if an influenza vaccine is also required. Please note, a referral will need to be attached to the online form. For further information on the program, please contact us.

Ordering process for PPE

Access to PPE is now via Living with COVID PPE Bundles ordered nationally through PHNs using an online order form and delivered directly by a national distributor (rather than via PHNs). Access to PPE from the National Medical Stockpile is dependent on eligibility, and PPE volumes will be monitored by the Commonwealth Department of Health.

General Practice, ACCHS and GPRCs ordering information

Living with COVID PPE Bundles are available for:

  • GPs, ACCHS and GPRCs willing to manage COVID positive patients face-to-face, until 30 September 2022.
  • ACCHSs and rural and remote GPs willing to treat COVID positive patients virtually and respiratory patients face-to-face, where workforce capacity is limited AND the GP is serving the community for most of all health needs, until 30 September 2022.
  • GPs and GPRCs willing to support COVID positive people virtually, and respiratory patients face to face, until 30 September 2022.

Orders can only be placed once per month and be submitted to the PHN via the online form.

Please read the guidance document before placing your first order:

GP, ACCHS and GPRC: Completing New PPE Order Form Guide

GP, ACCHA and GPRC online ordering form

PPE for the health workforce during COVID-19

PPE for COVID-19 includes surgical masks, particulate filter respirators (such as P2 or N95), gloves, goggles, glasses, face shields, gowns and aprons. For more information go to COVID PPE Information for Health Professionals.

Accessing pulse oximeters for your patients

Individual patients – we have access to a small supply of oximeters. GPs with patients they believe require a pulse oximeter urgently are asked to complete this CESPHN Pulse Oximeter online form with the patients details and we will arrange delivery of an oximeter.

General practices – practices actively seeing moderate risk COVID positive patients can also be sent up to 10 pulse oximeters per practice via the new PPE online ordering form. If your practice has already received 10 pulse oximeters via the previous process, you will need to access future stock through your local suppliers.

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