This post is not the latest immunisation update and therefore may contain information or advice that is out of date.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 – 3 November 2021

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ATAGI advice on booster doses

Australia has commenced rolling out COVID-19 booster shots to the population following new advice from Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). People who are aged 18 years and over will be offered a booster shot six months after receiving their second dose. Immunisation providers must check the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) prior to administering any COVID-19 vaccines.

General practices who have stock and available bookings can commence providing boosters immediately. It is important that patients are aware the booster vaccination is not mandatory, however they are recommended to maintain immunity against COVID-19. 

Boosters can be funded through the existing MBS items 93644, 93645, 93646, 93647, 93653, 93654, 93655 and 93656 are available to assess patients’ suitability for the second or subsequent dose of a COVID-19 vaccine dose.

Updated Clinical Guidance – Version 7.4 

The Clinical guidance on use of COVID-19 vaccine in Australia Version 7.4 is for COVID-19 immunisation providers and program staff and is updated based on currently available data. 

Recent changes from the previous version include:

  • Pfizer is recommended as a single booster dose 
  • Precautions for mRNA COVID-19 vaccine use have been updated
  • Updated guidance on mixed schedules.
  • Coadministration of a COVID-19 vaccine with with other vaccines can occur. 
  • COVID-19 vaccines should be delayed for at least 90 days after receiving an anti-SARS-CoV-2 monoclonal antibody or convalescent plasma. 

Overseas COVID-19 vaccine brands that can be recorded on the AIR 

From 1 November 2021, AstraZeneca COVISHIELD (ASTCOV), Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV (SINBBI), and Sinovac Coronavac (SINCOR) can now be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) if they were given on or after 1 October 2020. As with other COVID-19 vaccines administered overseas, records must include a Country of immunisation and a Batch Number to be recorded on the AIR.

A list of all vaccines currently able to be reported to AIR is available on the AIR vaccine code page. COVID-19 vaccines brands that can currently be recorded on the AIR:

  • AstraZeneca COVISHIELD
  • AstraZeneca Vaxzevria
  • Janssen-Cilag COVID Vaccine
  • Moderna Spikevax
  • Pfizer/Biontech Comirnaty
  • Sinopharm BBIBP-CorV
  • Sinovac Coronavac

TGA recognises two more overseas COVID-19 

On 1 November 2021, the TGA determined that Covaxin (manufactured by Bharat Biotech, India) and BBIBP-CorV (manufactured by Sinopharm, China) vaccines would be ‘recognised’ for the purpose of establishing a traveller’s vaccination status, along with the previously announced recognition of Coronavac (manufactured by Sinovac, China) and Covishield (manufactured by AstraZeneca, India). 

Vaccines currently approved in Australia are:

  • AstraZeneca Vaxzevria
  • Pfizer/Biontech Comirnaty
  • Moderna Spikevax
  • Janssen-Cilag COVID Vaccine.

Vaccines recognised by TGA for travel into Australia:

  • AstraZeneca COVISHIELD
  • Sinovac Coronavac
  • Bharat (Covaxin)
  • Sinopharm (BBIBP-CorV) (for 18–60 year olds).

COVID-19 vaccine wastage

Vaccine wastage refers to the loss of vaccine doses due to cold chain breaches, expired vials or other damage. The COVID-19 Vaccination Training gives details on how to dispose of vaccines: 

  • Prior to disposal, the outer packaging (carton) should be defaced by striking through at least one panel of the carton with a sharpie or similar marker.
  • Any unused vaccine or waste material should be disposed of in accordance with local requirements in a clinical waste bin – vials must be disposed of in the provided sharps container to ensure they cannot be accessed.

Remember to notify wastage to the Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) through the COVID-19 Vaccine Administrative System (CVAS)

  • wastage less than 5 vials should be reported in your Vaccine Stock Management Report; and 
  • wastage of 5 vias and over should also be reported within the Wastage Report
  • wastage incidents (e.g. damaged vials or breach of cold chain requirements), of 5 vias and over must be reported immediately (within 2 hours of the incident occurring) by calling the VOC on 1800 318 208

Specialist Assessment and Supervised Vaccination Clinics 

GPs are now able to use the Specialist Assessment and Supervised Vaccination Clinics (SASVC) pathway to support their patients who have contraindications or precautions to vaccination or have experienced a serious Adverse Event Following an Immunisation (AEFI).

GPs and immunisation providers can email clinical questions to NSWISS, and NSWISS will provide advice to GPs who can then refer patients to an LHD in NSW that runs a Specialist Assessment and Supervised Vaccination Clinic (SASVC).

SASV clinics are now operational at Royal Prince Alfred, Liverpool, Campbelltown, Westmead Adults, John Hunter, Royal North Shore, Nepean and Wollongong Hospitals, with more being added.

PRODA and delegations – Are your delegations still current?

Practices are encouraged to routinely review delegates in HPOS, including when staff leave an organisation. Visit the Services Australia website for instruction on how to edit and remove members delegations. All healthcare professionals with a HPOS account have access to My access history, which is an activity log showing a record of HPOS logins by users and their delegates for the previous 90 days. This is available via the main menu, My details, My access history:

 Further information about delegations is available on the NCIRS resource: Supporting and understanding delegations in HPOS to enable access to the Australian Immunisation Register

The use of HPOS and associated programs is governed by laws and government policies, including the Australian Immunisation Register Act 2015, Privacy Act 1988 and HPOS Terms of Use.

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 4 November, 11:30am (AEDT) | Click link to join

Catch up on previous webinars