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This post is not the latest immunisation update and therefore may contain information or advice that is out of date.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 – 31 March 2021

31 March 2021

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COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 

The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) have jointly prepared this comprehensive resource that uniquely provides information and answers questions about COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The document answers a range of questions including:

  • Why is the vaccine being rolled out in remote communities when there were no cases there?
  • Are COVID-19 vaccines safe for elders?
  • Is COVID-19 vaccine safe for people with existing medical and chronic conditions?
  • Is COVID-19 vaccine safe for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy?
  • What are the likely side effects from COVID-19 vaccines?
  • Can people choose which vaccine they take?
  • Is COVID-19 vaccine compulsory?
  • Are COVID-19 vaccines effective?

The resource is available to download here.

COVID-19: General Updates

COVID-19 vaccine communication materials

  • NCIRS has developed a new resource for organisations promoting COVID-19 vaccines to guide them in creating targeted communications and to address questions and concerns that people may have.
  • Access the guide here.

COVID-19 vaccine ordering

The Australian Government Department of Health’s VOC is working with the distributor to get vaccines to GPs in areas affected by flood as soon as possible. 

  • If your GP clinic is having any issues with registering or ordering, please contact the Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) hotline on 1800 318 208 or email
  • If your practice is having any issues with delivery or cold chain breaches, please report these to CVAS and the VOC as soon as possible.

COVID-19 vaccine supply update

  • The TGA has approved the Australian manufacturing processes and production of the CSL made AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine – see announcement 
  • The first batches approved on Tuesday evening (over 830,000 doses) are now rolling out across Australia. Over the next three and a half weeks we will see over 500,000 doses rolled out each week.
  • AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is licenced for administration to people aged 18 years and over.

COVID-19: Clinical Updates

Advice for COVID-19 vaccine providers

The Australian Government Department of Health website has Information for COVID-19 vaccination providersand  Advice for vaccine providers which explains:

See website for more information and advice for providers.  

AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

In many general practices, each dose should be withdrawn and immediately administered to a recipient before another dose is withdrawn from the vial for the next recipient later when required. This should always be applied in settings where vaccines doses are not administered one after another. If any doses remain in the vial, refrigerate the multi-dose vial between +2°C and +8°C immediately after you finish the vaccine draw-up.

In a mass vaccine clinic setting, you may pre-draw multiple doses from one vial and use within one hour if stored at room temperature, or within six hours if stored at 2-8°C. This is to ensure vaccine efficacy and safety. 

Other clinical considerations:

Influenza (Flu) Vaccination in 2021

Vaccination against influenza remains important this year. Vaccination experts recommend influenza vaccination for all people aged 6 months and over. The National Immunisation Program (NIP) funds influenza vaccines for people most at risk.

2021 Influenza vaccine pre-orders 

Pre orders opened on 8 March 2021, with deliveries planned to commence in late March 2021.

Influenza Toolkit

The 2021 influenza toolkit is available to support immunisation providers to plan for the 2021 Influenza vaccination program. The fridge basket stickers and poster will be sent with first deliveries of vaccines.

Eligibility for NIP flu vaccines 

Immunisation providers should offer NIP funded influenza vaccines to eligible persons, to ensure those at most risk of developing severe influenza and its complications receive the vaccine. All patients aged over 5 years of age who are not eligible for funded flu vaccine should be advised that they can purchase private market flu vaccine via GPs or authorised pharmacists (for people aged 10 years and over).

Ordering considerations:

  • First order deliveries: Due to the large volume of influenza vaccine orders at the beginning of the season it can take around four weeks for the State Vaccine Centre to send out all first orders. When vaccine deliveries commence, vaccine orders are processed according to the date the order was placed.
  • Initial order: Ensure you order enough vaccine for four weeks in your initial order. 
  • Subsequent orders: only order what you can feasibly administer in a maximum four-week period. Consider the amount of expired vaccines that you discarded from the 2020 season.
  • Wastage: Do not overstock your fridge to avoid unnecessary vaccine wastage in the event of a refrigerator malfunction or power failure.

See also:

Influenza and COVID-19 Vaccinations

Scheduling influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations

This year both influenza and COVID-19 vaccines will be available to protect people in Australia from these potentially serious diseases. It is important that both vaccinations are planned to ensure the best possible protection against COVID19 and influenza.

Consider these principles when scheduling influenza and COVID-19 vaccinations:

  • people in earlier phases for COVID-19 vaccination should ensure they receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them, and then receive their influenza vaccine.
  • people in later phases for COVID-19 vaccination should receive their influenza vaccine as soon as it is available, and then receive their COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.

Your practice is responsible for ensuring appropriate spacing between COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations.

Clinical advice is changing rapidly. Your practice should keep up to date with the latest ATAGI advice available at

For more information, see website

Webinar: COVID-19 and 2021 influenza vaccines | NCIRS

Wednesday 31 March 2021 | 12:30 pm – 2:00 pm AEDT

In this webinar:

  • learn about the 2021 influenza vaccination program, including suggested relative timing for administration of influenza vaccine with COVID-19 vaccines
  • hear an update on the roll out of COVID-19 vaccines in Australia.


COVID-19 Rollout: Phase 1B

Who is eligible for Phase 1b?

For the purposes of vaccine eligibility in phase 1b, the Australian Government Department of Health clearlydefinespriority groups for Phase 1b:

  • People 70 years and over, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 55 years and over – see page 4 & 5
  • Healthcare, aged care, and disability care workers – see page 6
  • Critical, high risk, meat processing workers, and household contacts – see page 7 to 9
  • Carers (paid and unpaid) of certain people – see page 12 

What is an “Underlying medical condition”?

  • People with a specifiedunderlying medical condition – see page 10 & 11
  • This eligibility criteria lists all medical conditions that are eligible under Phase 1b, andapplies to people aged 69 years and under

Proof of underlying medical conditions

All GPs should upload their patient’s shared health summary to My Health Record, particularly for patients who are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination in Phase 1B.

Patients can demonstrate eligibility for a COVID-19 vaccination in Phase 1B via the following accepted forms of evidence:

  • My Health Record
  • A referral from GP or treating specialist, 
  • a printout of an individual’s medical history/chronic disease care plan, 
  • a discharge summary from a hospital, 
  • a valid script or medication prescribed to treat one or more of the relevant medical conditions.

Where none of these are available, individuals may complete an Eligibility Declaration Form