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Immunisation weekly update – 19 April 2023

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Recent tetanus cases in NSW

Following three recent tetanus cases in NSW including one death, immunisation providers are strongly encouraged to remind their patients to stay up to date with tetanus vaccinations.

In Australia, tetanus mostly occurs in older adults who were not adequately immunised.

A tetanus-containing vaccine booster is recommended for all adults at 50 years of age and at 65 years of age if it is more than 10 years since the last dose.

Tetanus is a rare, but potentially fatal disease. Vaccination is the best protection against tetanus.

These are the first tetanus cases reported in NSW since 2019, and the death is the first due to tetanus since 1993.

A woman in her 80s from Sydney died on 1 April from tetanus and two other notifications of tetanus were reported in NSW this year – a woman in her 80s from Sydney, and a woman in her 70s from Northern NSW.

Ordering restrictions – COVID-19 vaccine

The Commonwealth has restricted Moderna Bivalent BA4.5 orders to 50 doses to preserve national stock levels.

This will also ensure that sites have sufficient fridge space to store all NIP and influenza vaccines, as the Moderna pre-filled syringes are up to 15 times larger than the multidose vials.

Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines are preferred for booster dose administrations.

Alternate Bivalent COVID-19 vaccines available for ordering include:

  • Moderna Bivalent (BA.1) 18 years+ (Blue/Green), 
  • Pfizer Bivalent (BA.1) 18 years+ (Grey); and,
  • Pfizer Bivalent (BA.4-5) 12 years+ (Grey).

Request access to Bivalent vaccines

Sites who have not been onboarded for Bivalent vaccines are able to request access through the Vaccine Access Requests functionally in CVAS.

Contact Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) on 1800 318 208 for assistance.

‘Difficult to Vaccinate’ clinical pathway

For almost 100 families, the ‘Difficult to Vaccinate’ clinical pathway has transformed their child’s immunisation journey from one that is challenging to one that can empower.

The initiative is part of the NSW Immunisation Specialist Service (NSWISS), based at The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, and was developed in collaboration with NCIRS in conjunction with NSW Health.

It facilitates a range of vaccination services for children and adolescents with significant needle phobia and/or behavioural challenges due to their underlying health condition.

Many of these young people have intellectual or developmental disability, experience multiple hospital presentations and are not up to date with immunisations.

The pathway facilitates the administration of vaccines in an environment tailored to each individual, guided by the child and their family on how they need to be supported. 

A recent study published in the Paediatric and Neonatal Pain journal investigated the outcomes of using parental and staff feedback to evaluate and adapt the service. It demonstrated that the implementation of actionable strategies from this feedback resulted in more efficient, successful service delivery and improved patient outcomes.

Childhood Immunisation – One more way you keep them safe

The Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care has launched a public awareness campaign aimed at improving childhood vaccination rates across the country.

Despite maintaining relatively high routine vaccine coverage among children in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a concerning downward trend in some childhood immunisation coverage rates over the past two years, particularly for Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander children.

The campaign, which has the theme ‘One more way you keep them safe’, highlights the importance of on-time vaccination of children according to the National Immunisation Program (NIP) schedule, emphasising that vaccination is just one more of the many things parents and carers can do to keep their kids safe.

The campaign website provides information and a range of resources that will continue to be built on as the campaign activities are rolled out over the coming months.

Your practice can help by proactively following up overdue children using an overdue report extracted from AIR by CESPHN.

Click here to register your practice’s interest in receiving these reports.  The report will contain a list of children who, according to AIR, are overdue for one or more of their scheduled childhood vaccinations. Your practice was the last provider of a vaccination service for the children on your report.

Immunisation Education  

NCIRS: HPV in 2023 – latest vaccine recommendations and research

  • About: A webinar focused on changes to the HPV vaccination schedule and their implications, initiatives designed to maintain high levels of HPV vaccine coverage, and including an in-depth look at the use, effectiveness and safety of the vaccine.
  • When: Friday | 5 May 2023 | 2:00pm – 3:00 pm
  • Register: Free – Click link to register.