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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This post is not the latest immunisation update and therefore may contain information or advice that is out of date.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 – 24 August 2022

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Taking a break from the COVID-19 Vaccination Program

General practices participating in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program now have the option to either:

  • Completely withdraw from the Program,
  • Selectively withdraw from specific vaccine types/brands,
  • Temporarily withdraw – take a break from the Program, with the option to recommence at any time to administer select vaccine/s you wish to administer

Contact your practice support officer or email practicesupport@cesphn.com.au if your practice wishes to withdraw from the program.

Monkeypox – Local transmission confirmed in NSW

Local transmission of monkeypox has been confirmed in NSW, with 42 cases of monkeypox identified in NSW residents as at 21 August 2022. One case is confirmed to have acquired the infection locally in NSW, while two other cases acquired their infection locally within Australia.

GPs are reminded to refer patients in key risk groups to be vaccinated – see information on referral process. Monkeypox vaccination is not recommended at a population-wide level, unlike COVID-19 vaccination. ATAGI recommends people at the highest risk of getting monkeypox should consider vaccination, including:

  • people who have been in contact with someone with monkeypox in the last 14 days 
  • people living with HIV 
  • people with recent history of multiple sexual partners, participating in group sex or attending sex on premises venues 
  • sex workers 
  • people in the groups above who plan to travel to a country with a significant outbreak
  • immunisation providers who are administering the ACAM2000 smallpox vaccine.

NSW Health will prioritise access to initial doses of MPX vaccine to manage the immediate outbreak, based on who is at greatest risk of exposure or severe illness and local context. 

Vaccination services for people with disability

In-reach vaccination service

Residential disability service providers can organise an in-reach COVID-19 vaccination service for residents. Contact disabilitycovidvaccinedelivery@health.gov.au to book a Commonwealth vaccination provider.

Specialist Immunisation Clinic

The Specialist Immunisation Clinic provides vaccination for children who have complex medical needs. Day admissions can be arranged for children who are difficult to immunise because of severe anxiety, needle fear or underlying behavioural disorders. Experienced staff can administer vaccines using relaxation or distraction techniques or, if required, can administer light sedation under close observation.

GPs can refer patients to attend the specialist clinic, which is free of charge for Medicare cardholders. To arrange an appointment, contact (02) 9382 1470 for the Randwick Specialist Immunisation Clinic or (02) 9845 1414 for the Westmead Specialist Immunisation Clinic. Referrals can also be emailed to SCHN-NSWISS@health.nsw.gov.au. Referrals for new patients can only be accepted up to 16 years of age.

Easy Vaccine Access (EVA)

EVA (Easy Vaccine Access) is a simple call-back service to help people book a COVID-19 vaccine. Simply send an SMS with ‘Hey EVA’ to 0481 611 382 and a trained operator will call to assist with booking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. Learn more here.

Support helplines for people with disability, providers, carers and families:

  • Disability Gateway: 1800 643 787
  • National Relay Service: 133 677 for people who are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment
  • COVID-19 Vaccine Helpline: 1800 020 080
    • Option 5: for people with disability, their families and carers
    • Option 4: for disability workers
    • Option 8: for people who speak a language other than English.
  • Translating and Interpreting Service: 131 450.

New immunisation features in MedicalDirector and Best Practice! 

Immunisation providers are required to check a patient’s AIR immunisation history before each vaccination. Previously, this was a time-consuming process that required providers to log in to online AIR via PRODA. Now with the latest versions of MedicalDirector (Clinical 4.2) and Bp Premier (Saffron SP3), AIR functionality is integrated within the software.

What does this mean?

AIR records can be accessed directly from the clinical software – no more logging in to PRODA.

New AIR web services features within the clinical software “immunisation tab” allows GPs to:

  • View vaccine history and vaccines due from patient AIR records
  • Save immunisations from AIR directly to the practice patient record
  • Record vaccines given overseas and upload to AIR
  • Immediately upload individual immunisations to AIR
  • Generate an Immunisation History Statement
  • Update immunisation encounters in software and upload to AIR
  • Add a Planned Catch up in software and upload to AIR 
  • Add Indigenous status or Special risk status in software and upload to AIR
  • View Medical ContraindicationsNatural Immunity, and Vaccine trials

Can nurses access the new AIR web services features?

Yes, nurses will need to add the practice’s “AIR Provider Number” to access and view AIR data within the practice clinical software. (GPs can use their Medicare provider number).

What is a practice AIR Provider Number?

It is a provider number given to an organisation to access AIR – it is also referred to as:

  • organisation AIR provider number
  • Location AIR provider number – in Best Practice
  • Ancillary Provider Number – in MedicalDirector

Call AIR on 1800 653 809 to check if your practice already has an existing an organisation AIR Provider Number. To apply for a new organisation AIR Provider Number, complete the ‘Application to register as an immunisation provider IM004’ form.

For more information, see Immunisation | AIR website or contact your Digital Health Officer at digitalhealth@cesphn.com.au

Covid Risk Calculator: a tool to address vaccine concerns

The Covid Risk Calculator (CoRiCal) is a tool to help people who are not sure about getting the COVID-19 vaccines. The tool calculates the chances of getting sick or dying from COVID-19 based on age and sex, and it also calculates the chances of developing certain rare conditions (eg TTS or myocarditis) from the vaccines. The risk is displayed as either “risk per million people” or “risk as a chance” – a one in x chance.

Should pregnant women receive a second COVID-19 booster?

The COVID-19 vaccination decision guide has been updated to include recommendations on a second booster dose (also known as a fourth dose) in pregnant women. ATAGI does not recommend a fourth dose for all pregnancies at this time:

Second booster recommended:

  • A second booster dose is recommended for people aged 50 years and older and may also apply to a very small number of women who are pregnant and over 50 years.
  • Pregnant women and adolescents aged 16 years and older with a medical condition/disability that puts them at greater risk of severe COVID-19 should also receive the second booster dose.

Second booster optional:

  • People aged 30-49 years, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, may receive a second booster dose at any stage of pregnancy.
  • While there are no safety concerns, the benefit for people in this age group is less certain because the risk of severe disease in women who have received three doses of vaccine appears very low.

Second booster not recommended:

  • Pregnant women with no other medical conditions/disability below 30 years of age are not currently recommended to receive a second booster dose based on the low likelihood of severe disease.

COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 6 months to 4 years

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From 5 September 2022, Moderna 6 months to under 5 years (Blue/Purple) vaccines will become available for some children aged 6 months to 4 years. Bookings will be made available on the Vaccine Clinic Finder website.

Not all children aged 6 months to 4 years are recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine:

  • Recommended: ATAGI recommends COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 6 months to 4 years who are severely immunocompromised, have a disability, or have complex and/or multiple health conditions.
  • Not recommended: Children aged 6 months to 4 years who are not listed in the eligible categories are at a low risk of developing severe illness from COVID-19 are not recommended to receive a COVID-19 vaccine at this time.

The new Teeny Tiny Stevies song ‘I got you’

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A new children’s song has been created to help remind families how to avoid viral infections like COVID-19. The song “I Got You” is composed by ARIA award-winning Australian musical group Teeny Tiny Stevies.

music video and children’s activity kit has been released with the song, which reminds children to wash their hands and stay home if they are not feeling well.

Surveillance program: Myocarditis following COVID-19 vaccination

COVID-19 vaccines are relatively new, and there are limited long-term safety data in Australia and internationally on individuals with myocarditis following COVID-19 vaccination. To gain a greater understanding of characteristics, progress and outcomes of those affected, AusVaxSafety is conducting long-term follow-up surveillance of individuals who experienced myocarditis following COVID-19 vaccination.

To participate in the program, visit the AusVaxSafety website.

Upcoming immunisation webinars

COVID-19 response update

  • About: primary care update on the COVID-19 response and the vaccine rollout – key updates and Q&A
  • Thursday 25 August 2022 at 11:30am (AEST) – Click link to join

GSK Education – Dinner event

  • About: Learn more about herpes zoster and SHINGRIX, a new shingles vaccine now available in Australia for your patients ≥50 years old.
  • Details: Bedouin restaurant, 53 Cross Street Double Bay | Tuesday 13 September | 6.30pm to 9.00pm
  • Register: complete registration form (1.47 MB) and email to Jessica.x.wu@gsk.com or call 0467 800 761
  • Target audience: GPs, nurses, pharmacists

NCIRS webinar: Vaccination for travel

  • About: an update on travel vaccination recommendations in the context of increasing international travel, including COVID-19 variants, diphtheria, measles, monkeypox, Japanese encephalitis.
  • Thursday 1 September 2022 at 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm (AEST) – Register now

Immunisation news

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Catch up on previous Immunisation Weekly Updates.

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Keep up to date with the latest information on Monkeypox.