The Department of Health and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have approved 3 vaccines for use in Australia from 1 October 2020: AstraZeneca Vaxzevria, Moderna Spikevax and Pfizer Comirnaty.
If a patient received an AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer vaccine on or after 1 October 2020 while overseas, it can be recorded on the AIR when the patient returns to Australia and appear on their immunisation history statement. Patients will need proof of vaccination documents translated in English.
If a patient received a COVID-19 vaccine overseas that isn’t AstraZeneca, Moderna or Pfizer, it cannot currently be added to the AIR. A GP letter can be provided as a form of documentation to the patient.
COVID-19 Digital certificates and mixed vaccination schedules
Enhancements to the AIR will be implemented in mid-September 2021 to ensure that individuals who have received a mixed vaccination schedule in line with the ATAGI advice, can access a COVID-19 Digital Certificate. In the meantime, individuals can use their Immunisation History Statement (IHS) as proof of vaccination.
ATAGI recommends using the same COVID-19 vaccine for the two doses of the primary vaccination course. Recent updates have been made to the clinical guidance regarding the use of mixed vaccination schedules for specific medical contraindications or precautions, or where the same vaccine brand is not available in Australia. See Clinical advice on the use of a different COVID-19 vaccine as the second dose.
Vaccination advice for patients who have had COVID-19 infection
COVID-19 vaccines are recommended for people with a past history of COVID-19 infection. The ATAGI clinical guidance on the use of COVID-19 vaccine in Australia in 2021 recommends that after a PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, vaccination should be deferred for up to 6 months. This is because after having had COVID-19, the risk of being re-infected is reduced for at least 6 months.
NCIRS noted there may be some situations where it is reasonable to be vaccinated earlier than 6 months following infection with SARS-CoV-2, such as people working in a job with a high risk of exposure to the virus or people requesting vaccination, for example, to satisfy a mandatory vaccination requirement or patients who are significantly immunocompromised and may not have a strong immune response after being infected with the virus. In these situations, the person should consult their healthcare professional, and their individual circumstances should be considered. The healthcare professional can consult with a specialist immunisation service for additional advice.
If a patient requires a temporary exemption from vaccination for work or other reasons, because they recently had laboratory-confirmed COVID-19, this can be obtained from their doctor using the NSW Health approved medical contraindication form, for up to 6 months.
People can give consent either in writing or verbally, according to the protocols of the health facility. All consent must meet the criteria for valid consent. People need to give explicit verbal consent before receiving any vaccine, even if they gave written consent at previous vaccination encounters for the same vaccine. Document verbal consent in the person’s file each time they give it.
In general, a parent or legal guardian of a child has the authority to consent to that child being vaccinated. The law presumes that people have capacity to make decisions about their health care at 18 years of age. For certain procedures, including vaccination, a child or adolescent may be determined to be mature enough to understand the proposed procedure, and the risks and benefits associated with it. These young people may have the capacity to consent under certain circumstances. The legal test used to determine if a child is capable of giving consent is when he or she “achieves a sufficient understanding and intelligence to enable him or her to understand fully what is proposed”. This is referred to as ‘Gillick competent’ or a ‘mature minor’.
For further information consult with your indemnity provider.
Updates to the Catch-up Calculator
The National Immunisation Catch-up Calculator (NICC) has undergone minor updates and refinements based on the feedback received from stakeholders. Some of the updates that have been made are related to scheduling of catch-up appointments, pneumococcal vaccine dose recommendations and more. If you identify any issues with the updated NICC, please contact the Handbook Team or email Immunisation Handbook inbox of the Australian Government Department of Health.
Commonwealth-funded places are now available for Registered Nurses through participating RTOs. A number of public and private sector places are available across the country, including RNs working in general practice. The course enables nurses to deliver immunisation services and administer vaccines independently of a medical officer as per the NSW Health policy directive.
Moderna vaccine – provisional approval in individuals aged 12 years and older
On 3 September 2021 the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) granted provisional approval for the use of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine (Spikevax) in individuals aged 12 years and older. This decision follows the provisional approval granted on 9 August 2021 for use in individuals aged 18 years and older.
Extended deadline for authorised workers in LGAs of concern
Authorised workers from the LGAs of concern must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of Sunday 19 September to continue to work outside the LGA they live in from 20 September. Priority bookings are available.
COVID-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme
The Australian Government has finalised the details of the COVID-19 Vaccine Claim Scheme. People who have had a moderate to significant adverse reaction to an approved COVID-19 vaccine can now register their interest in the proposed COVID-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme.
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!
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