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This post is not the latest immunisation update and therefore may contain information or advice that is out of date.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

24 March 2021

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CESPHN Annual Immunisation Update 2021 

Tuesday 30th March 2021 7.00pm – 8.30pm

Online seminar presented by Dr Nick Wood from NCIRS

Q&A facilitated by CESPHN Immunisaton Program staff 

Topics:

  • 2021 Flu vaccination
  • COVID-19 vaccine information 
  • Co-administration of vaccines
  • Legislation changes for nurses and pharmacists
  • AIR Mandatory reporting

REGISTER HERE

Ordering Masks 

PPE: Application during COVID-19
NSW CHO Dr Kerry Chant recommends masks

  • Surgical masks have been supplied in limited numbers to PHNs for health professionals working in higher risk clinical areas who are exposed to at risk customers.
  • To register your request for surgical masks please complete this formMask Request Form (CESPHN). However before submitting your request for masks, please refer to this PHN locator link to check if you are in the CESPHN area. Any requests submitted outside our area will not be processed.
  • We have a small supply of P2/N95 respirators for those assessing and collecting specimens from patients with suspected COVID-19.

Patients without Medicare – how to report vaccines to AIR 

It is now mandatory to report all COVID-19 and influenza vaccines given in Australia to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR). This includes persons without a Medicare card number.

Create a record on AIR

If a patient isn’t enrolled in Medicare and they don’t have an AIR record, you will need their:

  • full name date of birth
  • gender
  • address

You can create a record on the AIR site or continue to send vaccines via practice management software and this will create a record that will match to their Medicare record if they enrol later in Medicare.

NB: For providers using Medical Director in conjunction with PracSoft billing to report vaccination encounters, patients without a Medicare card number will not transmit to the AIR. This patient encounter will need to be reported through the online AIR site.

Accessing immunisation history statements

Non-Medicare individuals can get their immunisation history statement through My Health Record if they:

  • have an Individual Healthcare Identifier (IHI). They can get an IHI by completing the Request or update an Individual Healthcare Identifier form (MS003)
  • link or register for My Health Record. Further information is detailed on the Services Australia website.

Visit the Services Australia website for further information.

Timeframes to access the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)

Authentication file access to AIR

Access to the AIR site using authentication files will be switched off soon.

Transition to PRODA

Healthcare professionals and support staff are requested to transition to access the AIR site using HPOS and an individual PRODA account.

AIR access via PRODA

PRODA is an online identity verification and authentication system and allows healthcare professionals to securely access government online services. Once a PRODA account is established, a number of services can be accessed, including HPOS and the AIR.

Accessing the AIR site using HPOS provides improved security features designed to provide appropriate control over access to an individual’s immunisation records.

Delegations

Depending on the type of user, these services can be accessed either as an individual; a delegate of an individual or as a member of an organisation.

Important note

If your practice has already registered to use HPOS to access the AIR site, Authentication Files should not be used and must be deleted from practice personal computers. An Authentication File is deleted in the same way that a document or other file is deleted eg. (if using Microsoft, right click on file, select delete, select Yes ). 

The Services Australia website provides further information and instructions on:

User guides for practice :

Further support:

  • PRODA |  1800 700 199
  • HPOS |  1800 700 199
  • AIR |  1800 653 809 (general enquiries)  |  1300 650 039 (AIR online helpdesk)

The National Booking System

The National Booking System (NBS) will provide one front door where people can check their eligibility and find out where to get a vaccine, with links to call clinics or book online (this includes GPs, pharmacists, state-run clinics etc.).

The NBS will include:

  • An eligibility checker that the public, clinicians and others can use to determine whether a patient is in a priority population group.
  • vaccine clinic finder listing authorised vaccination locations along with their opening hours, contact details, and if they have one, a link to their online booking system.

There is also a factsheet which lists where COVID-19 vaccinations will be available to people in phase 1b of the rollout: in general practices, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services, and GP-led respiratory clinics. Phase 1b vaccinations commenced on 22 March 2021

Protect your vaccines – What to do in a power outage

Many areas have been affected by intense storms and flooding over the weekend. Do all staff at your practice know what to do if a power outage occurs at your practice?

Check your vaccine fridge:

  • Check min/max thermometer – did temperatures go above 8°C?
  • Download data logger – how long were temperatures above 8°C?

 If your vaccine fridge went above 8°C: (with the exception of a brief rise in temperature up to 12°C for less than 15 minutes)

  • Isolate vaccines and label DO NOT USE.
  • Immediately contact Public Health Unit (PHU) on 1300 066 055. Fill out cold chain breach reporting form and submit with data logger report and min/max temp chart
  • DO NOT use the vaccines.
  • DO NOT discard the vaccines.
  • Await further instruction from the PHU.

If your fridge contains COVID-19 vaccines:

In the event of a potential or actual wastage incident that exceeds the threshold (5 or more vials at

a time), sites need to contact the Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC)

COVID19VaccineOperationsCentre@health.gov.au or 1800 318 208 as soon as possible, and complete the Vaccine Wastage Report within 2 hours of the incident.

How to protect your vaccines from power outages

Power outages are a common occurrence due to various reasons such as storms, extreme heat and strain on the electricity system. This can result in unnecessary interruption to your business as well as vaccine wastage and delay the supply of vaccines to your patients.

An Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS), also known as a battery backup, provides backup power when your regular power source fails, or voltage drops to an unacceptable level. During a power outage, a UPS can sense the voltage is insufficient and will automatically go to battery power until normal power returns. The size and design of a UPS determines how long it will supply power. Please see our information sheet Alternative vaccine storage options in a power failure for more information and where to purchase.

If the practice experiences an interruption to power supply without back up power supply

  • Consider covering the glass door with insulating material (cardboard, bubble wrap or a blanket) and place ice bricks in empty spaces, taking care not to place them alongside vaccines, and keep the door closed.
  • Ensure the fridge temperature is being monitored during this time.
  • If the power loss continues and the temperature of the vaccine fridge rises above 8ºC, move vaccines to eskies, packed appropriately and monitor the temperature of the eskies using a min/max thermometer and the NSW Health temperature monitoring chart.
  • CESPHN have an information sheet on power failure action plan. Please print this off and keep a copy with your eskies, along with the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines ‘Strive for 5’, Appendix 9 – Checklist for Managing a Power Failure.

Other important points to consider

  • Do not over order NIP vaccines. You can order twice a month, therefore only order what you need for approx. 3 weeks.
  • Ensure that responsible staff check and record the temperature readings (current, minimum and maximum) on the vaccine fridge twice daily (every day that the practice is open).
    • Confirm all staff have completed HETI Vaccine Storage and Cold Chain Management online training module with certificates on file.
    • Confirm all staff know how to record and reset readings.
    • Confirm all staff know what to do if a breach is identified.
  • Check the data logger is set up correctly to record temperatures every five minutes.
  • Confirm staff know how to download and review the data logger report.
  • If using a cooler as part of your back-up plan, make sure you have adequate sized eskies to hold all vaccine stock, enough ice packs, bubble wrap and a portable digital thermometer per esky as a means of alternative vaccine storage if a fridge or power failure occurs.

Further support

If you need any assistance, or if you would like advice or resources on cold chain management, please contact the Immunisation Team at immunisation@cesphn.com.au or 1300 986 991, option 3 for immunisation.

Update your software

Legislation has passed that makes reporting of vaccinations mandatory, with penalties of $6,660 for non-compliance.

All vaccination providers will be required to report COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) from 1 March 2021 and all other NIP vaccinations must be reported from 1 July 2021. See Ministers press release for further information .

Best Practice and Medical Director have software updates that give GPs access to latest PBS, MBS vaccine codes for:

  • Pfizer Comirnaty
  • COVID-19 vaccine AstraZeneca
  • Flucelvax Quad

It is important with all the legislative changes that you update your software. See the CESPHN Digital Update for the most up to date software versions.

For additional support please contact:

  • Medical Director – 1300 300 161
  • Best Practice –1300 401 111

COVID-19 active vaccine safety data

AusVaxSafety active vaccine safety surveillance data now includes both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.

The profile of reported adverse events from AusVaxSafety surveillance for both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines is similar to that reported in clinical trials and from post-marketing surveillance overseas. These expected adverse events are related to the immune response to vaccination and are expected to resolve within 1-3 days after vaccination.

AusVaxSafety has not received any reports of thromboembolic events (clotting problems) occurring after vaccination. AusVaxSafety will continue to closely monitor the safety data of all COVID-19 vaccines in use in Australia in conjunction with the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

COVID-19 vaccines – is it true?

With new developments every day, it’s normal for patients to have questions or concerns about vaccination. Patinets are encouraged to rely on reputable sources of information to help them make informed choices and stay up-to-date on the latest information about COVID-19 vaccines.

Patients can find accurate, evidence-based answers to their questions about COVID-19 vaccines from a trusted source on the Department of Health webpage: COVID-19 vaccines – is it true, and this can help patients make informed decisions about vaccines – and get information.

Europe’s AstraZeneca pause 

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), have responded to the decision in some European countries to temporarily suspend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Based on evidence to date, ATAGI have not provided advice to a pause use of this vaccine in Australia.

See ATAGI response here.

General Practices join the COVID-19 vaccination program

More than 1000 general practices, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services, and GP-led respiratory clinics across the country have joined the vaccine rollout.


Learn more about Phase 1b and how patients can find a COVID-19 vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service.

Find out more here.

Infection Control Training module 

All practice staff are encouraged to complete the Australian Government Department of Health’s Infection Control Training module.

More COVID-19 vaccine related training is available on out CESPHN Immunisation Education page, including the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine training module, Anaphylaxis training, AIR training modules and more.