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Immunisation weekly update – 9 December 2020

9 December 2020

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Protect your vaccines over summer!

Many practices have experienced cold chain breaches recently due to power outages. Over the past two weeks alone, 38 suburbs within CESPHN experienced a power outage.

As we approach summer and temperatures rise, power outages become more common due to significant strain on the electricity system. It is important that all staff in your practice are aware of:

Each immunisation facility should have a back-up plan and alternative vaccine storage if a power failure or fridge failure occurs, such as:

  • Back-up power supply e.g. generator or battery/solar back up (UPS)
  • Cooler or esky large enough to fit all vaccines (also accommodating ice/gel packs and bubble wrap, and a min/max thermometer per cooler)

Anaphylaxis, AEFIs and COVID-19 vaccine

The initial roll-out of any COVID-19 vaccine will be in locations with medical practitioners on-site, given that these are new vaccines, in case of adverse events.

All immunisation providers should be confident in managing and treating adverse events following immunisation (AEFI), particularly anaphylaxis.

Practices are also required to have the protocols, equipment and medicines accessible on-site to manage anaphylaxis.

What is an AEFI?

An adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) is defined in The Australian Immunisation Handbook as “any untoward medical occurrence that follows immunisation. It does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the vaccine”. AEFIs are notifiable conditions under the NSW Public Health Act.

Reporting an AEFI

The National Adverse Events Following Immunisation AEFI Reporting Form is used to report adverse reactions to the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration), in addition to reporting to the Public Health Unit on 1300 066 055.​

Monitoring for adverse events following the COVID-19 will be important for clinician and consumer safety and confidence in the COVID-19 vaccination program.


The most serious immediate AEFI is anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis is a sudden and severe allergic reaction to a substance, which may result in unconsciousness and death if not treated immediately.

Anaphylaxis after routine vaccination is very rare but can be fatal. Severe anaphylactic reactions usually happen rapidly, within 15 minutes of vaccination.

All immunisation providers must be able to:

Useful resources

FREE anaphylaxis e-training course

The ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training course for health professionals 2020 was designed to provide reliable anaphylaxis education throughout Australia and New Zealand. This course was developed by the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA).

This free anaphylaxis course takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete and is suitable for all health professionals, including medical practitioners and nurses.    

An ASCIA e-training course certificate is provided upon completion, however it does not provide a qualification. All immunisation providers must have current First Aid and CPR qualifications to administer vaccines.

Check your anaphylaxis response kit

An anaphylaxis response kit must always be available when any vaccinations are administered As per the Australian Immunisation Handbook.

An anaphylaxis kit should contain the following: 

Immunisation providers are required to keep an anaphylaxis response kit on hand at all times, and check contents regularly to ensure they are up to date and not expired.

Order resources

Email if you would like any anaphylaxis posters or resources posted to your practice.

Mandatory reporting of flu and COVID-19 vaccines: situation update

The Australian Immunisation Register Amendment (Reporting) Bill 2020 entered parliament last Thursday 3 Dec 2020 – see Statement from Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt. The effect of the amendments is to ensure vaccination providers report all vaccines administered on to the register (including any COVID-19 vaccines), with penalties applied for providers who fail to comply.

What is the fastest way to report vaccine encounters to AIR?

The fastest way to report vaccines to AIR is electronic transfer via your practice software. Vaccine providers are reminded to use the “Immunisation Tab” in practice software to enter vaccination details instead of free typing in progress notes.

Information from the Immunisation Tab can be uploaded to AIR directly, whereas information from progress notes cannot be electronically transferred.

Most practice software programs will auto-populate into the patient visit notes from the Immunisation Tab, saving time with double entry.

Software updates & COVID-19

Practices are reminded to ensure they keep their practice software up to date. Having the latest version of software will help to prevent any electronic transfer issues from your software to AIR, particularly when COVID-19 vaccine updates are released.

Some software updates are automatically installed and some need to be manually actioned. Check with your software provider if you are unsure how your practice manages software updates.

What if I don’t use practice software?

If your practice does not use software, or if your software does not automatically report vaccinations to the AIR, you will need to report these vaccinations directly using the online AIR website via PRODA login access.

Need help?

State Vaccine Centre Christmas and New Year closure dates

The State Vaccine Centre SVC closure dates for the Christmas period:

  • Routine vaccine orders received prior to midday on Monday 21 December 2020 will be processed and delivered Tuesday 22 December.
  • The SVC will reopen Monday 4 January 2021 and begin delivering that day.

The SVC online system has been updated with this information.

Watch webinar recording: SARS-CoV-2 vaccine development

This exclusive NCIRS webinar covers the latest developments in the journey towards COVID-19 vaccines – for both Australia and the world.

View the video of this webinar to:

  • gain an understanding of the current COVID-19 vaccine development landscape, clinical trials and next steps in vaccine deployment
  • learn about the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation (CEPI)’s COVAX response to COVID-19 from Dr Melanie Saville
  • hear about where we are now in Australia and internationally and realistic expectations for the next 6–12 months
  • consider the ethical and logistical implications of global vaccine implementation, specifically approaches for the Indo-Pacific region

Discount codes for Benchmarque course!

The Benchmarque Group is offering 10 FREE discount codes for practice nurses to access the Foundations of Immunisation  online course free of charge (valued at $95) to celebrate the restructure of their Immunisation course.

What has changed?

The “Course in Immunisation Practice” has now been divided into 3 individual modules:

  1. Foundations of Immunisation
  2. Immunisation needs in: Adults / Influenza / Pregnancy / School
  3. Practice of Immunisation

The Foundations of Immunisation Program aims to provide students with the skills and knowledge required to work within the framework of immunisation and public health, with a focus on an understanding of the immune system, how vaccines work, communicable disease management and assessing a client’s eligibility for vaccinations.

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

This foundations module is recommended for nurses new to the general practice setting or those wishing to refresh their skills.

Eligibility criteria

  • Nurse working in general practice within the CESPHN region
  • One discount code per general practice
  • These codes expire on Saturday 12 December 2020 so students must enrol before expiry date.

How to access discount code

Contact the PHN Immunisation team to secure one of the 10 codes. Information required: full name, place of employment, job title, email, mobile, current qualification.


Download the new NSW Immunisation Schedule – July 2020   

Keep up to date with Immunisation information on our PHN Immunisation webpage 

Keep up to date with coronavirus information on our PHN Coronavirus webpage.