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Supporting the COVID-19 vaccination rollout

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Supporting the COVID-19 vaccination rollout

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Brisbane South PHN is supporting the Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccination rollout across our region. We are working closely with Commonwealth, state and local government-level planning groups, and community leaders of priority populations, to ensure a coordinated, timely, equitable and trustworthy vaccine rollout. 

ATAGI Advice  

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and the Australian Government announced on 17 June 2021, that the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is now only recommended for people aged 60 years and over. This recommendation follows the higher risk and observed severity of thrombosis and thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) related to its use in the 50-59 year old age group than reported internationally and initially estimated in Australia. 

ATAGI Guidance 

ATAGI clinical guidance on COVID-19 vaccine in Australia in 2021 

FAQ point of interest: Interchangeability of vaccines 

On the basis of currently available information, Comirnaty and COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca are not considered interchangeable. The two-dose course should be completed with the same vaccine. There are no data yet on the efficacy of mixed schedules.

If an individual develops anaphylaxis or a severe allergic reaction after the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, an alternate brand should be considered for the second dose. If an alternate brand is used for the second dose, a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine does not need to be given. If an individual develops thrombosis with thrombocytopenia after the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, Comirnaty can be used for the second dose. A third dose of COVID-19 vaccine does not need to be given.

It is recommended to receive the second dose of a different vaccine (either Comirnaty or COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca) at an interval of 4 weeks (if first dose was Comirnaty) to 12 weeks (if first dose was AstraZeneca) after the first dose.  In all circumstances, a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine does not need to be given

If an individual develops thrombosis with thrombocytopenia after the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, Comirnaty can be used for the second dose. A third dose of COVID-19 vaccine does not need to be given. 

The only absolute contraindications to a COVID-19 vaccine are: 

  • anaphylaxis after a previous dose of the same vaccine 
  • anaphylaxis to any component of the vaccine, including: o anaphylaxis to polyethylene glycol (PEG) for Comirnaty 
  • anaphylaxis to polysorbate 80 for COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca 
  • thrombosis with thrombocytopenia occurring after the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca 
  • other serious adverse events attributed to the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine 

ATAGI Statements

ATAGI statement on use of COVID-19 vaccines in an outbreak setting 

ATAGI statement on revised recommendations on the use of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, 17 June 2021 

FAQ point of interest: Suitability of AstraZeneca for adults aged under 60  

COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca can be used in adults aged under 60 years for whom Comirnaty is not available, the benefits are likely to outweigh the risks for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits. (refer to weighing up potential benefits against risk from COVID-19

ATAGI Advice and Guides 

Referral Information for increased risk of Anaphylaxis 

Metro South Health will only accept referrals for COVID-19 vaccination in a hospital setting if the patient is requiring vaccination within a healthcare facility because of increased risk for anaphylaxis. 

Referrals will only be accepted if the reason for referral includes one of the following: 

  • A history of immediate (within 4 hours) and generalised symptoms of a possible allergic reaction (e.g. urticaria/hives) to a previous dose of a COVID-19 vaccine 
  • A history of a generalised allergic reaction (without anaphylaxis) to any component of the COVID-19 vaccine to be administered (e.g. PEG in the Pfizer vaccine or polysorbate 80 in the AstraZeneca vaccine) 
  • A documented history of severe allergy and/or anaphylaxis to previous vaccines and/or multiple drugs (injectable and/or oral) 
  • A known systemic mast cell activation disorder with raised mast cell tryptase that requires treatment 
  • With a history of severe allergies, anaphylaxis or a history of mastocytosis please see COVID Allergy Vaccine Assessment for essential referral information. 

Referrals for Metro South Health consideration of vaccine suitability can be done via the Central Referral Hub or Smart Referrals. See the Metro South Health COVID Vaccine Program website for more information. 

Eligible patients who do not require a referral should utilise the eligibility checkerandvaccine booking to book an appointment. If patients have difficulties registering online, they can call 134 COVID (13 42 68) 

Access to Pfizer vaccine as medically-indicated for people aged 60 and over  

As per the Management of COVID-19 vaccine rollout for Queensland hospitals Guideline, found on the QLD Health Covid-19 Vaccination Primary Care webpage, there are currently a limited number of medical circumstances where a consumer aged 60 or over might be eligible for the Pfizer vaccine including those with underlying medical conditions. Please see the new Queensland Health Recommendation form to receive the Pfizer Vaccine which is required to be signed by a medical practitioner and presented by an otherwise ineligible patient at a Queensland Health Vaccination Location.  

The new Queensland Health Recommendation formto receive the Pfizer vaccine is required to be signed by a medical practitioner and presented by an otherwise ineligible patient at a Queensland Health vaccination location. This does not replace a referral to a local Hospital and Health Service for consideration for in-hospital vaccination or seeking specialist advice, however will assist people aged 60 years or over to receive a Pfizer vaccine if they have an approved medical condition.  

If you are a medical practitioner making a recommendation for the Pfizer vaccine, please ensure that your patient is aware that, despite this form, they may not be accommodated at a Queensland Health vaccination location at this time due to the prioritisation of second doses and the priority occupations above. Additionally, they may be turned away if sufficient information is not included on the form. If patients are struggling to find an available appointment, please encourage them to check back in the mornings as additional appointments continue to be made available.  

In addition, the Annerley and Slacks Creek Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics commenced vaccinating with the Pfizer vaccine in July, and may accept patients aged 60 years and over with a referral or letter from a patient’s GP or treating specialist confirming that they have been diagnosed with one or more of the relevant medical conditions as outlined in the Management of COVID-19 vaccine rollout for Queensland Hospitals Guideline.   

All Aboriginal Medical Services (from Gold Coast to Sunshine Coast) commenced vaccinating with the Pfizer vaccine from 19 July 2021 and will be prioritising regular patients and other First Nations patients. Non-First Nations peoples will not be accepted until all eligible First Nations patients have had the opportunity for vaccination. 

Information for COVID-19 vaccination providers 

Australian Government Department of Health Website 

Queensland Health Website 

Clinical guidance and information for COVID-19 vaccination providers, including general practices, GP-led respiratory clinics, Aboriginal and Community Controlled Health Services, vaccination administration service providers and community pharmacies. 

Pfizer: 

AstraZeneca: 

Media Toolkits and TGA Advertising Guidelines 

Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) and mandatory reporting: 

 It is mandatory for all COVID-19 vaccine administered in Australia to be reported to the AIR. Influenza vaccinations must be reported to the AIR and all other National Immunisation Program (NIP) vaccinations must be reported from 1 July 2021. 

Your practice should take reasonable steps to confirm that a person is eligible to receive the vaccine. Including checking in AIR for any previous vaccinations.   

*The way you access the AIR has changed. You must access the AIR through HPOS using a PRODA account. Read more about how to set up your access to the AIR. 

Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) 

Adverse Events Following Immunisation (AEFI) need to be reported for the COVID-19 Vaccination Program. General Practitioners, other healthcare workers and consumers can report an AEFI using the PDF form. Email the completed AEFI form to  COVID_AEFI@health.qld.gov.au 

Vaccine details (batch number, serial number, dose, date of vaccine) can be found in the patient’s medical record, Australian Immunisation Register or on the vaccination card provided to the person vaccinated when they received their vaccination. 

Practices using the following practice software can complete an Adverse Event Following Immunisation directly though their practice software and submit it to Queensland Health (via Medical Objects).

Please click the links below for instructions on how to install the relevant templates.

For Medical Director users

For Best Practice users

Post COVID-19 Vaccination Suspected Anaphylaxis Reporting Form 

The Queensland Vaccine Command Centre (VCC) has developed this form to assist Public Health Units (PHU) to capture details on anaphylaxis following COVID-19 vaccine administration. This form is in addition to the AEFI form and should be completed by a health professional and submitted to the local PHU. 

  • Letter from QLD Chief Medical Officer on reporting of AEFI (18 June 2021) 

MBS items relevant to COVID-19 vaccination 

From March 2021, 16 new MBS items will be available to enable GPs and suitably qualified health professionals to assess patients for their suitability to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

Cold Chain Management 

COVID vaccines are stored in a purpose built vaccine fridge between +2°C to +8°C and follow the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines (Strive for 5). AstraZeneca can be stored for up to 6 months and the Pfizer vaccine prior to administration can be stored for up to 31 days. 

If you have experienced a Cold Chain Breach contact Vaccine Operations Centre on 1800 318 208

Information they may require: 

  • Batch numbers and expiry dates 
  • Time and date power went out and timeframe 
  • How many vials were impacted 
  • Ensure impacted vials are isolated ensuring no one can use them 
  • Temperature log of fridge or if moved to esky manual temp log 

COVID-19 vaccination training 

COVID-19 vaccination training is mandatory for all authorised vaccination providers. The non-clinical modules of the training such as handling, storage and administration are available to non-clinical and administrative staff. 

Frequently asked questions (FAQs) 

Answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccines. The links below are updated frequently. 

Resources 

Vaccination cards and flyers available

COVID-19 vaccine providers can now order vaccination appointment cards and flyers with step-by-step instructions for patients on how to access proof of their vaccination status, through their mygov account. To order these resources direct from the distributor, click the button to email your practice name, address, and quantity required. Please note, the resource description and number will automatically appear in the email subject line when you click the link below.

Australian Government Department of Health 

  • Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine website 
  • Australian Government COVID response weekly webinar updates 
  • Advice for COVID-19 vaccine providers. A collection of resources for health professionals containing advice and guidance on delivering COVID-19 vaccinations. 
  • As with all other vaccines, informed consent is required before administering each COVID-19 vaccine dose. In most cases, consent can be verbal. Written consent is not mandatory but may be required in some circumstances. This applies to Dose 1 and Dose 2. 

Queensland Health 

Other sources 

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) 

Queensland PHNs have developed a Vaccination Preparation Pack to assist general practitioners, practice nurses and practice managers to deliver a successful mass vaccination program. A checklist is provided for non-vaccinating practices to help prepare patients for COVID-19 vaccination at an alternate location. Download the checklist here.

Part 1- Preparing your practice policies and protocols

Part 2 - Internal preparation for your team

Part 3 - Identifying eligible patients and planning the patient vaccination journey

Part 4 - Preparing and implementing a vaccination clinic

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