A free flu jab will be available to all NSW residents in a month-long blitz from 1 June to 30 June 2022 to this year’s expected severe influenza season. With a sharp increase in flu cases already, the NSW Government will fund flu vaccinations at general practice and pharmacies for those who are not otherwise eligible for free flu vaccinations under the NIP.
COVID-19 winter boosters are also recommended for specific population groups (see expanded ATAGI recommendations), and providers are reminded that both flu and COVID-19 vaccines can be administered at the same time.
The NSW flu program will complement the current National Immunisation Program (NIP), funded by the Commonwealth, which provides free flu vaccine for those considered to be at higher risk of severe illness from the flu, including:
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people from six months of age
children from six months to under five years of age
people ages 5 to 64 years with serious health conditions (including severe asthma, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity, kidney, heart, lung or liver disease)
people aged 65 and over.
GPs will be able to obtain FluQuadri (state funded) from the State Vaccine Centre for this expanded program in June. GPs should continue to prioritise NIP supplies (Vaxigrip, Fluarix and Afluria) for eligible patients.
GPs can also use private stock and seek remuneration for the purchase cost via a declaration of quantities administered at the conclusion of the program on 30 June 2022.
NSW Health has lowered the minimum age permitted for children to receive flu vaccines in pharmacies to 5 years old (previously 10 years old) making it easier for families to be vaccinated together.
Pharmacies are encouraged to use existing private supply or obtain vaccine supply through usual wholesale supply distributers for under 65s. During the month of June pharmacies will be remunerated for vaccines administered.
Unlike routine NIP vaccine orders (via the NSW Vaccine Centre), there is no limit on the number of flu vaccine orders that can be placed per month. There is also no restriction on the quantities of flu vaccines that can be ordered once pre-allocated and pre-ordered vaccine has been distributed at the start of the season.
Providers are reminded to log into their vaccine account and confirm receipt of each vaccine delivery. New orders cannot be placed until this has been done. (This requirement has been in place since December 2020.)
Providers should contact the State Vaccine Centre on 1300 656 132 for issues relating to vaccine ordering.
Updated COVID-19 vaccine flowchart
The ATAGI COVID-19 vaccine flowchart outlines which vaccines and doses are recommended for each age group and population group. The flowchart was updated 27 May to include:
Winter boosters for people aged 16 – 64 years who have complex, chronic or severe conditions that are considered to increase their risk of severe illness from COVID-19
Additional foot notes
Winter booster for at-risk people aged 16 to 64 years
People aged 16 to 64 years at increased risk of severe COVID-19 are now recommended to receive a winter booster vaccination dose. Additional groups recommended for a winter booster dose are listed in Table 1 however, providers may use clinical judgment to include individuals with similar conditions.
The additional groups are likely to have an ongoing increased risk of severe COVID-19 even after primary vaccination, and include people aged 16 to 64 years with:
Specific chronic inflammatory conditions
Chronic lung disease
Chronic liver disease
Severe chronic kidney disease
Chronic neurological disease
Diabetes requiring medication
Chronic cardiac disease
People with disability
Considerations for younger people
Younger people aged 16 to 40 years with increased risk of severe COVID-19 may consider discussing the potential risks and benefits of a second booster dose with their doctor. There is a very rare risk of myocarditis and pericarditis after mRNA vaccines which is highest in this age group, particularly in males. It is anticipated that this cohort may have an increased risk of myocarditis or pericarditis following the second booster, compared with other population groups. See ATAGI advice on Myocarditis and Pericarditis.
COVID-19 live stream update for GPs
COVID-19 vaccinelive stream for GPs – key updates and live Q&A
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