This post is not the latest immunisation update and therefore may contain information or advice that is out of date.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 – 16 February 2022

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COVID-19 vaccine exemptions 

This fact sheet for patients outlines when a vaccine may not be recommended, or when vaccinations should be postponed.  

Booster for adolescents aged 16-17 years 

ATAGI now recommendsPfizer COVID-19 vaccine for use as a booster dose in adolescents aged 16-17 years. Eligible 16 to 17 year olds are able to receive a COVID-19 booster as ATAGI extends the recommendation of a booster vaccination for all people aged 16 years and above from 3 months after receiving their last primary vaccination dose. 

Excess vaccines and AIR COVID-19 booster report 

The AIR042A report has undergone enhancements. Using the practice’s PIP ID (Practice Incentives Program ID), providers can now identify all patients due for a booster vaccine. Practices are encouraged to recall all patients due for their booster vaccine and utilise their excess COVID-19 vaccines prior to defrost expiry. 

Defining ‘up-to-date’ status for COVID-19 vaccination 

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has released guidance that summarises ‘up-to-date’ vaccination status as defined in their clinical guidance for the use of COVID-19 vaccines. Key points include: 

  • All individuals aged 16 years and over are recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose to maintain an “up-to-date” status. This booster dose is now recommended from 3 months after the last primary dose. This is called the ‘due date’
  • Children and adolescents aged 5-15 years are up-to-date after completion of a primary course of vaccination. A booster dose is not currently recommended for this age group. 
  • Severely immunocompromised individuals aged 5 years and over require a 3rd primary dose of a COVID-19 vaccine from 2 months (and no later than 6 months) after dose 2 to remain up-to-date. Those who are aged 16 years and over are recommended a booster (4th) dose, 3 months after dose 3 of their primary vaccination course. 
  • Individuals who have had prior COVID-19, including asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection, still require completion of the above vaccination schedule, but can defer receipt of the next dose for up to 4 months following their infection. 

In its advice, ATAGI acknowledges that this change in definition of up-to-date status for COVID-19 vaccines may impact the status of an individual’s COVID-19 immunisation certificate, and sufficient time should be provided to support implementation of changes. ATAGI has recommended they be made effective by the end of March 2022 

Boosters for residential aged care workers across Australia 

On 10 February 2022, National Cabinet endorsed the AHPPC recommendation to mandate COVID-19 booster vaccinations in residential aged care facilities. All state and territory governments will implement this decision on mandatory booster doses for residential aged care workers consistent with arrangements already in place through state and territory public health orders and equivalent arrangements.  

Practice Incentives Program  COVID-19 in-reach vaccination  

The Practice Incentives Program (PIP) COVID-19 in-reach vaccination payment is a time-limited payment to support general practices that undertake in-reach COVID-19 vaccination services for residential aged care and disability support workers in their workplace.  

This payment is only available for Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS) COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessment services (for primary vaccine course and subsequent booster vaccine doses) that are administered via an in-reach COVID-19 vaccination clinic between 29 April 2021 to 30 June 2022. See payment guidelines

COVID-19 vaccine in severely immunocompromised  

What has changed in the ATAGI recommendations on the use of a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised: 

  • Nuvaxovid (Novavax COVID-19 vaccine) can be used as a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine. 
  • Severely immunocompromised children aged 5 to 11 years are now recommended to receive a 3rd primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine, 2 months after their second dose, in line with other severely immunocompromised age cohorts (noting in previous versions of this advice there was a range of 2 to 6 months). 
  • People aged 16 years or older who received a 3-dose primary course due to severe immunocompromise are now recommended to receive a booster (4th) dose 3 months or more after their 3rd dose. 

International travel update 

On 7 February 2022, the Prime Minister announced that from 21 February Australia’s international borders will be open to all individuals with a valid visa and proof of receiving two doses of an approved vaccination. Unvaccinated travellers will still need to apply for a travel exemption and will be required to undergo hotel quarantine on arrival if granted permission to enter the country. 

Nuvaxovid (Novavax) Update 

On 21 January 2022, the Government opened a targeted Expression of Interest (EOI) process to identify participating general practices interested in administering the Novavax vaccine.  

The interested primary care sites have been split into two tranches, for the first deliveries: Tranche 1 sites are expected to commence Novavax from the 21 February 2022, and Tranche 2 sites from the 28 February 2022

Novavax COVID-19 vaccine has also been included in the standing Expression of Interest open for all general practices interested in expanding their participation in the Program. Email immunisation@cesphn.com.au for EOI form. 

AstraZeneca booster 18+ years  

On 8 February 2022, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved the Vaxzeria (AstraZeneca) vaccine as a booster vaccine for individuals aged 18 years and above. Read ATAGI’s advice on the type of vaccine recommended for booster doses. Important things to note: 

  • The Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) are still the preferred third doses, irrespective of the primary COVID-19 vaccine used. 
  • The TGA says people should still consult a doctor before getting the AstraZeneca booster. 

Needle Phobia  

A new fact sheet has been developed on 14 Feb 2022, providing information on how to manage needle phobia for adults. Information for adults with a needle phobia

Sputnik V can be recorded on AIR 

The TGA has announced that Gamaleya Sputnik V is a recognised vaccine and can now be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). See AIR vaccine code formats

The Services Australia website lists the COVID-19 vaccines approved or recognised by the TGA that can be recorded on AIR. Individuals who had a recognised COVID vaccine overseas on or after 1 March 2020, can have it recorded on AIR. 

TGA approvedTGA recognised
• AstraZeneca Vaxzevria 
• Pfizer/Biontech Comirnaty 
• Moderna Spikevax 
• Novavax NUVAXOVID 
• Janssen-Cilag COVID Vaccine.
• AstraZeneca COVISHIELD • Bharat Biotech Covaxin • Gamaleya Sputnik V • Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV • Sinovac Coronavac.

Revaccination following non-TGA recognised COVID-19 vaccination 

People who have received either a first dose or a full course of a COVID-19 vaccine that is not TGA-approved or TGA-recognised should be offered two doses of an alternative TGA-approved vaccine brand available in Australia to be considered fully vaccinated.  

People should begin their full course of a TGA-approved or recognised COVID-19 vaccination at an interval of 4 to 12 weeks after their most recent COVID-19 vaccine dose. A longer interval is acceptable if the vaccine course cannot be started during this time frame. See ATAGI advice 

COVID-19 live stream update for GPs 

Join the latest COVID-19 vaccine live stream update for GPs. The panel will provide latest key updates and answer participants’ questions live about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. 

Details: Thursday 17 February 2022, 11:30am (AEDT) | Click link to join

Catch up on previous webinars. 

Updated NSW Pharmacist Vaccination Standards 

Key points of the updated NSW Pharmacist Vaccination Standards include: 

  • Includes the COVID-19 Nuvaxovid (Novavax vaccine) vaccine.  
  • Novavax vaccine is only approved for use in a primary course of COVID-19 vaccination 
  • Novavax vaccine is only for individuals 18 years and over with no medical contraindications 
  • Novavax vaccine can only be administered to a pregnant woman with a written request from a medical practitioner
  • AstraZeneca vaccine can only be administered to individuals aged 18 years and over as a booster dose, with a written request from a medical practitioner

VCF Connect 

The national rollout for VCF Connect started on 2 February2022, and will continue in a series of tranches until all primary care vaccination providers are contacted. Registration emails are planned to be complete by 28 February 2022. VCF Connect Registration emails are sent to the authorised contacts on the COVID 19 Vaccine Administrative System (CVAS).  

All vaccine providers must register for VCF Connect as the current manual processes for updating the Vaccine Clinic Finder will cease from 31 March 2022. If vaccination providers have further questions, please encourage them to contact CV19.Products@health.gov.au or 1800 316 375.