IMPORTANT NOTICE

This post is not the latest immunisation update and therefore may contain information or advice that is out of date. Please see our most recent update here.

Immunisation weekly update – 15 February 2023

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COVID-19 Cold Chain Breach (CCB) Reporting Form

The Department of Health and Aged Care has introduced an online Cold Chain Breach (CCB) reporting form to be emailed to the Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) on COVID19VaccineOperationsCentre@Health.gov.au.

2023 COVID-19 Booster Advice

On 8 February 2023, The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) provided updated advice on COVID-19 vaccine booster doses, replacing previous booster dose recommendations.

ATAGI recommends a 2023 COVID-19 vaccine booster dose for adults in the following groups, if their last COVID-19 vaccine dose or confirmed infection (whichever is the most recent) was 6 months ago or longer, and regardless of the number of prior doses received.

A booster dose is recommended for:

  • All adults aged 65 years and over
  • Adults aged 18-64 years who have medical comorbidities that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, or disability with significant or complex health needs.

ATAGI advises that people in the following groups should consider a 2023 booster dose based on an individual risk benefit assessment with their immunisation provider:

  • Adults aged 18-64 years without risk factors for severe COVID-19
  • Children and adolescents aged 5-17 years who have medical comorbidities that increase their risk of severe COVID-19, or disability with significant or complex health needs.

ATAGI also advises that:

  • A booster dose is not recommended at this time for children and adolescents aged under the age of 18 who do not have any risk factors for severe COVID-19
  • All currently available COVID-19 vaccines are anticipated to provide benefit as a booster dose, however bivalent mRNA booster vaccines are preferred over other vaccines
  • Providers should aim to administer a 2023 COVID-19 booster dose prior to June 2023

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation

Atagi 2023 Booster Advice table

Pfizer bivalent BA.4/5

ATAGI advises that the Pfizer bivalent (Original/Omicron BA.4/5) COVID-19 vaccine can be used as a booster dose by adolescents and adults aged ≥12 years who are recommended to receive a COVID-19 booster according to the ATAGI 2023 booster advice.

The Pfizer bivalent BA.4/5 vaccine is not currently registered for use in children aged <12 years or as a primary series . An approved alternative COVID-19 vaccine, e.g. Pfizer Original COVID-19 vaccine, should be used in children aged 5-11 years who require a booster dose.

Training

Complete the Additional Module 1a: Pfizer/BionNTech (BIVALENT) COVID-19 Booster vaccine available on the COVID-19 Vaccination Training Program website.

Onboarding

Commencement letters have been sent out to eligible general practices: Onboarding of Pfizer Bivalent (BA.4-5) 12 years+ (Grey) vaccine. These practices are commencing in two Tranches: Tranche 1 commencing 6 March 2023, and Tranche 2 commencing 13 March 2023.

Updated NIP schedule card

Download the updated schedule card: National Immunisation Program Schedule.

2023 Influenza vaccination

In preparation for 2023 seasonal influenza vaccination, practices are advised to order their private stock with consideration to the NSW Immunisation Schedule. This includes the following groups receiving free influenza vaccination under the NIP:

  • All children 6 months < 5 years
  • First nations people >6 months
  • People at risk with conditions > 6months
  • People aged > 65 years
  • Pregnant women

Flu is recommended for all, however those that do not fall into one of the above categories must purchase flu stock privately.

Enhancements to the AIR for influenza vaccines

On 11 February 2023, enhancements were made to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) in preparation for the 2023 influenza season. It is mandatory for providers to report all Influenza vaccinations to the AIR administered on, or after, 1 March 2021.

NIP and non-NIP influenza vaccines

Providers will now be able to indicate whether an influenza vaccine is NIP funded by selecting either:

  • (NIP) for NIP funded vaccines
  • (Non-NIP) for privately purchased vaccines

Additional influenza vaccine names added to the AIR include: Afluria Quad (NIP), Afluria Quad (Non-NIP), Fluarix Tetra (NIP) and Fluarix Tetra (Non-NIP). On a patient’s Immunisation History Statement, only the vaccine brand name will display.

Updates to existing influenza vaccines

AIR has removed the following influenza vaccine brands which are no longer registered or available for use in Australia: Afluria Quad – AFLR, Fluvax – FLUVAX, Vaxigrip – VAXGRP, Fluarix – FLRIX, Fluarix Tetra – FLUTET, FluQuadri Junior – FQDJN, Fluvirin – FLVRN, Panvax – PANVAX, Influvac – INFLUV, Agrippal – AGRPAL, Vaxigrip Junior – VGRJNR, Fluvax Junior – FVXJNR, Fluad – FLUAD, and Fluzone High-Dose – FLUHID.

Vaccines administered prior to 11 February 2023 will still be able to be reported to the AIR.

In instances where the vaccine brand is not available to report to the AIR (eg overseas), providers can report it as ‘Generic Influenza’.

It is mandatory under the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015, for vaccination providers to report all Influenza vaccinations administered on, or after, 1 March 2021.

Expressions of interest to join ATAGI

The Department of Health and Aged Care is seeking expressions of interest from clinical professionals, researchers, and service delivery and consumer experts to join the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), commencing 1 July 2023.

ATAGI provides evidence-based advice on immunisation policies, programs and priorities. Applications must be received by close of business (Canberra time) on 22 February 2023 to ATAGI.Secretariat@health.gov.au.

Immunisation Education

Lunch and Learn: Immunisation catch ups – SECOND DATE ADDED

  • About: Please join us for an interactive lunch and learn presentation on immunisation catch up schedules. How to work them out, skills and insight to know in preparing a catch-up schedule.
  • When: Tuesday | 28 February 2023 | 12:30 – 1:30 pm (this session has now reached capacity)
  • When: Tuesday | 14 March 2023 | 12:30 – 1:30 pm
  • Register: Free – Link to register for 14 March session. Please note numbers are limited as this session will be interactive.

NSW Flu Vaccination Update 2023 – RACGP Webinar

  • About: Participants will receive an update on the 2023 NSW Influenza Vaccination Program to help ensure they are well positioned to support their patients for the coming influenza season.
  • When: Tuesday | 28 February 2023 | 7:30 – 8:30 pm (AEDT)
  • Register: Free – Link to register.

CESPHN Annual Immunisation Update

  • About: Latest updates on the COVID-19 vaccination program, NSW Influenza Vaccination Program and more. Agenda TBC
  • When: Tuesday | 4 April 2023 | 7:00 – 8:30 pm (AEDT)
  • Register: Free – Link to register.