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This post is not the latest immunisation update and therefore may contain information or advice that is out of date.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 – 20 October 2021

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Extension to the Zostavax® shingles catch-up program!  

On 15 October, the Department of Health announced they have extended the shingles (herpes zoster) vaccine catch-up program available under the National Immunisation Program. The catch-up program offered to people aged 71-79 years was due to end on 31 October 2021, and has now been extended for a further 2 years to 31 October 2023. This program extension will allow those who missed or delayed vaccination due to pandemic restrictions or other reasons, extra time to get vaccinated with Zostavax® to protect against shingles disease.

Practices can automatically receive a monthly report of patients due and overdue for the Zostavax vaccine from Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). Email for assistance with generating these recurring reports.

As Zostavax® is a live vaccine, it is contraindicated in some patients with immunocompromising conditions. It is important to review the latest guidance on herpes zoster in the Australian Immunisation Handbook and screen patients for contraindications using the screening tool in the Handbook.

Vaccination providers are also reminded that it is now mandatory to report all NIP vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register.

Scope of practice guide for administering vaccines

NCIRS has developed a new resource Administration of vaccines – Scope of practice for healthcare professionals provides an overview of the scope of practice relating to healthcare professionals prescribing and administering vaccines. This includes information for enrolled nurses, registered nurses, authorised nurse immunisers, and other health professionals.

International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate

The Australian Government’s new International COVID-19 Vaccination Certificate provides secure and internationally recognised proof of their COVID-19 vaccination history. The international certificate features a Quick Response (QR) code, which is generated using the COVID-19 vaccination information in the Australian Immunisation Register and your passport details. Access your international certificate using either your Medicare online account through myGov, the Express Plus Medicare mobile app, or contact AIR on 1800 653 809.

You can get your international certificate when you’re getting ready to travel if all the following apply:

  • you have a current Australian passport or foreign passport with an Australian visa 
  • you’ve had at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine
  • your vaccination provider has reported your COVID-19 vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)

More information available on the Services Australia website.

Vaccination post COVID-19 infection

The NSW Health factsheet on Release and recovery from COVID-19 has been updated and advises that there is no need to delay COVID-19 vaccination once a patient has recovered from their acute illness from SARS-CoV-2 infection. The document outlies the following key patient advice:

How soon should I get vaccinated?

People who have had COVID-19 can be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine once they have recovered from their illness. There is no need to delay vaccination, however it may be deferred for up to 6 months. This is because a past infection reduces the chances of getting COVID-19 again for at least this amount of time.

How will I know when I can leave self-isolation?

You have received a text message (SMS) or email which confirms the end of your isolation period. This is called your medical clearance notice. This means that you are no longer infectious and cannot pass COVID-19 on to other people. Please keep the SMS or email of your medical clearance notice with you when you leave home in case you need it to show your employer or NSW Police.

COVID-19 testing after isolation

After you are released from isolation, routine COVID-19 testing (such as workplace testing) is not required for six months. This is because tests for COVID-19 may continue to give a positive result for a while after infection, even though you are no longer infectious.

Collection of excess COVID-19 vaccines for redistribution

If practices are unable to relocate excess doses locally (contacted PHN and local practices), email the Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) for assistance. In some instances, the VOC may be able to arrange collection of excess doses for redistribution to another site. The VOC can only accept 20 vials or more of AstraZeneca; and 10 vials or more of Pfizer.

Proposed collection orders will be assessed for suitability, taking into consideration shelf life, time in transit, and clinic location. Practices will need to provide VOC with details about excess stock, including batch number, expiry date and number of excess doses, to be considered as part of this assessment. Once assessed, practices will receive a notification email confirming collection, or with disposal instructions.

Expired COVID-19 vaccines

If you have been unable to redirect your stock and the stock expires, please report the wastage through the COVID-19 Vaccine Administrative System (CVAS). Waste needs to be disposed of in accordance with the mandatory training, and vials must be disposed of in the provided sharps container to ensure they cannot be accessed.

AusVaxSafety 2020 Summary Report

AusVaxSafety has recently published their summary report which shows the percentage of reported adverse events, reported non-events, the percentage of those who saw a doctor or emergency department in the days after vaccination, and the most commonly reported events. The infographic also displays the vaccines given at each schedule point in 2020 and what diseases the vaccines protect against.

Removal of maximum dose number for Bexsero

On 7 October 2021, enhancements were implemented to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) to remove the maximum dose number for the meningococcal B vaccine, Bexsero. Previously, the AIR only allowed a maximum of four doses to be reported for an individual. Vaccination providers can now report all Bexsero vaccines administered to an individual to the AIR, ensuring they have a complete immunisation record.

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. Get involved by submitting questions and comments!

Details: Thursday, 21 October, 11.30am (AEDT) | Click link to join

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