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This post is not the latest immunisation update and therefore may contain information or advice that is out of date.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 – 27 January 2021

27 January 2021

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First COVID-19 vaccine approved for use in Australia  

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in Australia.

Key information:

  • Two doses will be required, administered at least 21 days apart.
  • The Pfizer vaccine will be delivered at up to 50 hospital sites across Australia, and in residential aged care and disability care facilities.
  • The first priority groups in Australia will start receiving a vaccine in February.

Who is in the first priority group?

The first priority groups include aged care and disability care residents and workers, frontline health care workers, and quarantine and border workers will be the first to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Find out more about the approval process and rollout strategy.  

COVID-19 vaccination: phases of roll out 

The Australian Government will be rolling out the COVID-19 vaccine as a staged roll out, including the  expansion of vaccine administration siteswith each subsequent phase:

  • Phase 1a will commence in mid-February at specific hospital sites
  • Phase 1b will commence around March at accredited general practice sites, and 
  • Subsequent Phases will progressively be rolled out through an expanded number of sites, including general practice clinics, existing Commonwealth GP respiratory clinicsstate  vaccination clinics and pharmacies.

Primary care participation in Phase 1b

The Australian Government is calling on accredited general practices to express their interest in participating in Phase 1b of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program.

Central and Eastern Sydney PHN has been asked to assist in the Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine roll out and distribute the Australian Government Department of Health EOIto accredited general practices in the CESPHN region for practices toregister their interest in participating.

What about general practice who are not accredited?

General practices who do not participate in this phase can still be involved in later phases of the vaccine roll-out. 

In the subsequent phases of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, all general practices who meet requirements will have the opportunity to participate inthe roll out as more vaccines become available.

Need help with the COVID-19 vaccine EOI?

CESPHN is providing support to those practices intending to participate in the EOI. To assist practices navigate and complete the EOI in an efficient manner we have produced a short EOI guidance document

CESPHN is here to assist so please email any questions

For more information see:          

Flu and COVID-19 vaccines

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has provided advice on influenza and COVID-19 vaccines. Current advice is that COVID-19 vaccination should be separated from administration of influenza vaccine by at least 14 days. This advice will be updated as new information becomes available.

Some key points to note:

  • advice is conservative and precautionary due to lack of data on the subject
  • coadministration of the vaccines could reduce the immune response to one or both vaccines
  • coadministration of the vaccines might also increase the risk of adverse events, ATAGI said.
  • separating administration of the vaccines will make it easier to track adverse events

The ATAGI advice suggeststhat exceptions to the general rule can be made if spacing out the vaccines meant it was likely the patient would miss out on vaccination entirely.

AIR mandatory reporting

It is essential that all vaccines administered are recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR), to coordinate timing of influenza and  COVID-19 vaccine administration in 2021.

Further complication is that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines each require different intervals between the two doses.

See full advice: Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI): Advice on the relative timing of administering influenza and COVID-19 vaccines in 2021

Discount code: training for general practice staff 

The Benchmarque Group is offering five FREE discount codes for practice staff to access the Foundations of Immunisation Support online course free of charge (valued at $75) to upskill CESPHN general practice support staff for the roll out of COVID-19 vaccine.

The course involves approximately 15 hours of self-paced online learning.

The Foundations of Immunisation Support Program is recommended for all general practice support staff. By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • Understand the impact of immunisation programs as a public health measure
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the immune response and how vaccines work
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the key features of vaccine preventable diseases
  • Apply knowledge of the various vaccine types and their components
  • Demonstrate knowledge of legal and ethical considerations for immunisation support
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the risks and benefits of vaccination and utilises relevant information resources.

Eligibility criteria

  • Working in general practice within the CESPHN region
  • One discount code per general practice
  • Students must enrol before Friday 5 February 2021

How to access discount code

Contact the PHN Immunisation team secure one of the five discount codesInformation required: full name, place of employment, job title, email, mobile.

WEBINAR: Identifying COVID:19 vaccine priority population groups 

Prepare your practice for the upcoming COVID-19 vaccination by learning how to identify high-risk patients for COVID-19 with CAT4.

Watch webinar now: Identifying high risk patients for COVID-19 vaccination

Learning outcomes:

  • Learn how to use CAT4 reports and filters to identify groups of patients at high-risk for COVID-19 complications
  • Learn how to identify and recall high-risk patients eligible for immunisation
  • Learn how to access resources to maximise the use of CAT4 for COVID-19

Course Level: Intermediate

Target Audience: General Practitioners, Practice Nurses, Practice Managers, PHN Practice Support Team.

Prepare signage for COVID-19 vaccine rollout  

Posters and signage – print from NSW Health website

The signs, posters and stickers in this toolkit provide ourselves, our colleagues and our community reminders of accepted behaviours and new standards of etiquette that will help protect everyone and stop the spread of COVID-19.

Update on Australia’s COVID-19 vaccines

The Australian Government Department of Health has a strategy to deliver COVID-19 vaccines to everyone living in Australia as soon as they are available.

A staged roll out of the vaccine is expected to commence in February 2021.

COVID-19 vaccines

The Pfizer/BioNTech  COVID-19 vaccine is likely to be available from early mid-February this year. Doses of this vaccine will be available through 30 to 50 hubs at specific hospital sites across urban and rural Australia.

Approval of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is anticipated for the coming months.

Roll out of COVID-19 vaccines

Both vaccines will progressively be distributed through an expanded number of sites, including general practice clinics, existing Commonwealth GP respiratory clinics, state-run vaccination clinics and pharmacies.

The vaccine rollout roadmap has determined the phases of vaccination for priority groups:

Phase 1a

  • Quarantine and border workers
  • Frontline at-risk health care workers
  • Residential aged care and disability care staff
  • Residential aged care and disability care residents.

Phase 1b

  • Adults over 70 years
  • All other health care workers
  • Begin vaccinating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Younger adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability
  • Critical and high risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing.

Phase 2a

  • Adults over 50 years
  • Continue vaccinating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Other critical and high risk workers.

Phase 2b

  • Balance of adult population
  • Catch up any unvaccinated Australians from previous phases.

Phase 3

  • People under 18 years if recommended.

Who is considered a frontlinehealthcare workers?

Frontline healthcare workers are those at the greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19:

  • GP Respiratory Clinics
  • COVID-19 testing facilities
  • ambulance staff
  • paramedics
  • ICU staff
  • emergency department staff
  • clinical and ancillary support staff.

Other healthcare workers,include GPs, pharmacists, and other health professionals.

Learn more at the Department of Health’s COVID-19 vaccines website and subscribe to the COVID-19 Vaccines Update.

Become an Authorised Nurse Immuniser

Central and Eastern Sydney PHN is offering practice nurses the opportunity to apply for a scholarship of up to 75%, to complete The Benchmarque Group’s Immunisation Endorsement Program

Apply for scholarship now!

This course is to become an authorised nurse immuniser in NSW and administer vaccinations independent of a medical officer, which will include COVID-19 vaccine

The Authority will be further updated to include the COVID-19 vaccine once it has been listed in the Commonwealth Poisons Schedule.

For more information contact

Register for SmartVax

AusVaxSafety has completed detailed vaccine safety analyses of all National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccines using SmartVax data.

Register free for SmartVax now!

AusVaxSafetywon the contract for expanded and enhanced active surveillance system to monitor adverse events following Immunisation.