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This post is not the latest immunisation update and therefore may contain information or advice that is out of date.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 – 23 June 2021

23 June 2021

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Updated ATAGI advice on the AstraZeneca vaccine

The Australian Technical Advisory group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has reviewed their advice on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and Pfizer is now the preferred vaccine for people under 60 years.

  • People aged 50 to 59 years who are booked for their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine should be offered the Comirnaty Pfizer vaccine, instead of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine.
  • People of any age who have received their first dose of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine without serious adverse effects should be offered the second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine

A new document Script for General Practices has been prepared to assist for General Practice staff in responding to patients with questions about the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. An FAQ document can be provided to patients to inform them of the changes.

Read full ATAGI statement – 17 June 2021.

Clinical alert – thrombosis with thrombocytopaenia syndrome (TTS) update

All people offered the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine should be advised of the risk of TTS, the symptoms to watch out for in the 4 to 30 days following vaccination, and when to seek medical advice.

Symptoms of TTS include new onset of:

  • Persistent headaches with or without changes in vision, other focal neurology or seizure-like activity
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Leg swelling or pain with or without associated colour change
  • Chest pain and/or shortness of breath (without a clear alternative cause).

Clinical reminder

People presenting with symptoms of TTS in the 4 to 30 days after vaccination should be urgently investigated as per the latest ACEM and THANZ guidance.

Read the full NSW Health Clinical alert.

New MBS item: immunisation consultations for patients over 50 years

A new MBS item 10660 has been introduced to support GPs to provide in-depth clinical assessments of patients aged 50 years and over regarding patients’ individual health risks and benefits associated with receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.

The benefit of $38.75 may only be claimed where a General Practitioner attends to a patient in person for more than 10 minutes, and must be provided in conjunction with a relevant MBS COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessment item.

See MBS Online website and factsheet for more information.

Second dose of AstraZeneca vaccine

The recommended interval between two doses of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is 12 weeks.

Shortening the interval from 12 weeks to no less than 4 weeks between doses is acceptable and may be appropriate in certain circumstances, for example, imminent travel or anticipated risk of COVID-19 exposure.

It is important to remind patients about their upcoming second dose appointment. A second dose flyer for patients receiving their COVID-19 vaccine is available for distribution.  

COVID-19 vaccines in pregnancy and breastfeeding

The Department has updated the COVID-19 vaccination decision-making guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy with information on Comirnaty (Pfizer).

Real-world evidence has shown that Comirnaty is safe for pregnant women and breastfeeding women. Pregnant women should be routinely offered Comirnaty at any stage of pregnancy, and women who are trying to become pregnant do not need to delay vaccination or avoid becoming pregnant after vaccination.

COVID-19 vaccination may provide indirect protection to babies by transferring antibodies through the placenta (for pregnant women) or through breastmilk (for breastfeeding women).

Vaccines administered by another provider: uploading to AIR

The Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) has functionality for immunisation providers to report vaccines that were administered by another provider.

If a patient has evidence of COVID-19 vaccinations (or any vaccinations) administered elsewhere which have not been reported to the AIR, providers are encouraged to report this information to ensure their patients have a complete AIR record.

See How to record an immunisation encounter on the AIR site.

Influenza vaccinations for children

The Department has commenced its campaign promoting the importance of influenza vaccinations for children, which are free for children aged 6 months to under 5 years under the National Immunisation Program (NIP).

Specialised resources developed under the Sharing Knowledge About Immunisation (SKAI) project are also available to support parents with questions about influenza vaccination for their children. These include:

 Vaccination providers access promotional materials, including posters and brochures, from the Influenza Resources Collection.

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 24 June, 11:30am (AEDT) | Click link to join

Get involved by submitting questions and comments!

Catch up on previous webinars 

New resources

COVID-19 vaccination – ATAGI clinical guidance on COVID-19 vaccine in Australia in 2021 (updated 18 June)

Clinical guidance for COVID-19 immunisation providers and program staff.

COVID-19 Vaccine resource webpage

Collection of the latest COVID-19 vaccine resources for immunisation providers and patients