This post is not the latest immunisation update and therefore may contain information or advice that is out of date.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 – 6 October 2021

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 In this week’s newsletter:

mRNA vaccines for people over 60

From 1 October 2021 the Australian Government announced people aged 60 and over can access any brand of COVID-19 vaccine, including the Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) vaccines, at all vaccination sites, regardless of where they live.

This means:

  • people aged 18+ can access any COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna and Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca)); and
  • people aged 12+ can access the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines.

It is important that high priority and vulnerable cohorts continue to be prioritised for vaccination appointments where possible, such as home care workers, disability support workers and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, to access a COVID-19 vaccine. See Department of Health statement.

Invalid COVID-19 vaccine doses

New ATAGI clinical guidance is available on the use of an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose as a replacement dose for an invalid dose in specified scenarios of schedule deviation or vaccine administration errors, including:

  • Giving a replacement dose if a second COVID-19 vaccine dose was given at less than 14 days after the first dose
  • Giving a replacement dose for specified vaccine administration errors resulting in under-dosing

This clinical guidance does not pertain to recommendations for a third or booster dose after completion of the valid two-dose primary course according to an acceptable schedule.

This clinical guidance advice is applicable to both homologous and heterologous two dose COVID-19 vaccine schedules, including accepted non-TGA registered vaccines.

Temporary medical exemptions for COVID-19 vaccines

There are very few situations where a vaccine is contraindicated and as such, medical exemption is expected to be rarely required. ATAGI have developed guidance for providers on acute major medical conditions that warrant a temporary medical exemption relevant for COVID-19 vaccines.

Temporary medical exemptions can only be completed by eligible health professionals utilising their Medicare provider number, and can be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) either by:

An AIR Immunisation History Statement displays all vaccinations or medical contraindications and authorised exemptions, including COVID-19, that have been reported to the Australian Immunisation Register. There is no longer any need to use the NSW Health Medical Contraindication form.

Recognition of overseas COVID-19 vaccines

Following assessment to determine the protection offered by vaccines against infection and serious illness, TGA’s initial advice is that Coronavac (Sinovac) and Covishield (AstraZeneca/Serum Institute of India) vaccines be considered ‘recognised vaccines’ for incoming international travellers to be regarded as appropriately vaccinated.

COVID-19 vaccines which have been granted provisional approval in Australia – Pfizer (Comirnaty), AstraZeneca (Vaxzevria), Moderna (Spikevax) and COVID-19 Vaccine Janssen are also recognised for incoming travellers.

At this point in time, TGA has received insufficient data to reach a conclusion as to the protection offered by BIBP-CorV (Sinopharm), Covaxin (Bharat Biotech), Sputnik V (Gamaleya Institute), and Convidecia (CanSino). These vaccines could be recognised in the coming weeks or months as more data becomes available. See TGA statement.

Children and COVID-19 FAQs

Children aged 12 years and older are recommended to get COVID-19 vaccine and the vaccination program for this age group is underway in Australia. NCIRS has answered some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 in children, vaccines available in Australia, vaccine safety and schooling. The FAQs are available on the NCIRS website.

COVID-19 vaccine safety data for people aged 12 to 19

New COVID-19 vaccine safety data from AusVaxSafety has shown adolescents aged 12–19 years are reporting similar short-term vaccine side effects to those reported by older Australians. AusVaxSafety has received more than 150,000 completed day 3 safety surveys from adolescents aged 12–19 years who received their COVID-19 vaccine and to date, the data analysis has not detected any safety signals for this age group.

View the COVID-19 vaccine safety data for adolescent participants.

Closure of AIR authentication files

Authentication file access to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) closed on 30 September 2021 for all providers. A Provider Digital Access (PRODA) account is required to access the AIR via the Health Professionals Online Services (HPOS) portal from this date onward. Instructions for health professionals and medical practices to set up AIR access can be found here.

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 7 October, 11:30am (AEDT) | Click link to join

Catch up on previous webinars 


Register here for upcoming NCIRS webinar: Weighing up the benefits and risks of COVID-19 vaccination: a focus on safety. Consider the risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccination and learn strategies for discussions to support your patients, friends and family in making decisions.

Date and time: Wednesday 13 October 2021, 12.30 pm – 2.00 pm  AEDT

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Immunisation Weekly Update

Catch up on previous Immunisation Weekly Updates on our Immunisation New & Alerts webpage.

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