COVID-19 Support COVIDsupport@bsphn.org.au 07 3493 4812

General practices

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Phase 1B COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Information for COVID-19 vaccination providers

  • Adverse effects following vaccination (AEFI)
    Adverse Events of Special Interest (AESI), as well as serious, unexpected or uncommon 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.

To complete the COVID-19 AEFI form:

  • Enter information into the PDF document online.
  • Once all of the information has been entered, click the Email button. The Email button will automatically attach the PDF document to an email and populate the “To:” field with  COVID_AEFI@health.qld.gov.au, making the email ready for sending.
  • Alternatively, the PDF can be printed or saved, completed, scanned and sent to COVID_AEFI@health.qld.gov.au.
  • Anaphylaxis
    A brief reminder that anaphylaxis can affect multiple organ systems including respiratory, cardiovascular, cutaneous and gastrointestinal. Importantly urticaria and/or respiratory symptoms are not necessary for the diagnosis of anaphylaxis. The mainstay of treatment of anaphylaxis is to administer intramuscular (IM) adrenaline 10mcg/kg up to 500mcg (0.5mg). For rapid identification of appropriate adrenaline dosages, refer to these printable lanyard cards (front and back). Download a patient fact sheet.

Resources

COVID-19 Vaccination Preparation Pack

Queensland PHNs have developed a Vaccination Preparation Pack to assist general practitioners, practice nurses and practice managers to deliver a successful mass vaccination program.

The Vaccination Preparation Pack supports the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and can be used for other vaccination events, e.g. influenza. It comprises four parts and builds a complete picture of vaccine readiness in your practice. The pack also contains checklists that can be used as evidence for accreditation and QI activities.

A checklist is provided for non-vaccinating practices to help prepare patients for COVID-19 vaccination at an alternate location. Click here.

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.

Vaccination clinic documents

Vaccine Provider Communication Kit – General Practice

Posters

Questions and answers for general practices eligible to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine

Registration and training

The Department of Health has advised that approximately 250 general practices in our region are eligible to deliver COVID-19 vaccinations to the community. The names of these eligible practices cannot currently be disclosed due to confidentiality, but this information will be available as soon as the national vaccination booking service is launched.

Allocation emails have been sent to the notification email address provided to the Department of Health in the EOI application. The emails were only sent to one email address. Please also check your junk/spam folder if you have not received the email. If you still cannot find it, you can contact us at covidsupport@bsphn.org.au.

Week 1 practices should have already received their site code to register for the portal. Week 2-4 will receive their site codes in the coming weeks in line with their onboarding date.

The COVID-19 vaccination training is compulsory for all vaccine administrators. You do not need to submit your training certificate but you must maintain a record of completion for all practitioners at your practice. Page 6 of the onboarding guide has more information about the training.

If a practice is operating in line with RACGP Standards for general practices (5th edition), this is sufficient to meet the requirements to deliver the COVID-19 vaccine.

The phase 1b rollout EOI was strongly supported with approximately 240 practices in our catchment area being successful. Nationally over 4000 practices are participating. Currently there is no further opportunity to participate in this phase but there may be further opportunities at a later date in future phases.

Week 1, 2 and 3 COVID-19 vaccination practices should have received an email with their site registration information. If your practice is due to commence in Week 4, please look out for an email in coming days. The email contains information on how to register for the COVID-19 Vaccine Portal and will allow you to order your vaccines in time to commence your vaccination clinics. Please check your spam folders if you have not received the email by Tuesday 30 March.

Once registered, please ensure you place your vaccine order as quickly as possible to ensure the vaccines arrive in time. Consumables can be ordered at the same time but will be delivered separately from the vaccines.

Once registered, please ensure you place your vaccine order as quickly as possible to ensure the vaccines arrive in time. Consumables can be ordered at the same time, but will be delivered separately from the vaccines.

If your practice needs to withdraw from the program or push back your start date, please let us know by email as soon as possible so we can inform the Department

Vaccine management

The minimum order is 100 doses therefore practices who have been allocated 50 doses will need to order 100 doses fortnightly. All other practices will need to order weekly.

The Department was originally working towards a slowly staged rollout, offering a small number of practices a high dose allocation initially and only bringing further practices onboard in much more gradual tranches once vaccine production had scaled up significantly. They have since taken onboard significant feedback from the industry and peak bodies that the preference is for as many practices as possible to start vaccinating as soon as possible. Accordingly, all practices will now receive a smaller weekly dose allocation initially so as to broaden that distribution. Vaccine allocation has been planned to enable the 4000+ eligible general practices to all participate in the rollout.

You can order vaccines weekly up to the maximum allocated amount. If you have an allocation of 50, you will only be able to order fortnightly as the minimum order amount is 100. You must order vaccines with a minimum of 5 days’ notice to allow for processing and delivery times.

The Commonwealth will be providing 3mL syringes, 25mm needles, sharps waste disposal bins and patient vaccine record cards. These will be shown with your vaccine order in the portal. All other consumables should be sourced from your usual supplier.

The COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca Australian product information contains information on page 2 in relation to how long after opening the vial it can be stored for. Any changes to this advice will be included in updated versions of the product information.

Yes. The Commonwealth Department of Health is reserving vaccine stock for second doses. There is no requirement for practices to hold back stock for second doses.

The Australian Government has released a presentation that outlines in more detail who will be vaccinated for COVID-19 under Phase 1b, based on recommendations by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. Eligible groups include essential (paid or unpaid) carers of people with disability and older people (i.e. family carers), aged care and disability workers, and people with disability who attend centre-based activities (day activities, supported-employment services). Please note, the AstraZeneca vaccine is provisionally approved for the immunisation of individuals 18 years and older.

Where doses will not be administered immediately one after another (e.g. in many general practices) each dose should be drawn and then administered to a recipient before another dose is drawn from the vial for the next recipient later, when required.

Where doses will be administered immediately one after another (e.g. in dedicated immunisation clinics, including within general practice), it is acceptable to withdraw multiple doses consecutively from one vial in the preparation area, with each filled syringe (with a capped administration needle) appropriately labelled and stored at the appropriate temperature and protected from light, before each dose is carried across to the administration area for use as soon as practical for each recipient. In this setting, it is acceptable to pre-draw multiple doses from one vial and use within one hour if stored at room temperature, or within six hours if stored at between +2°C and +8°C. This is to ensure vaccine efficacy and safety. If any doses remain in the vial, refrigerate the multi-dose vial between +2°C and +8°C immediately after completion of vaccine draw-up. Find out more here.

Patient consent and eligibility

The Australian Government has launched the second phase of Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination advertising campaign through a broad range of media. This campaign informs the community about Phase 1a of the vaccination program rollout, and that it is prioritising those most at risk of serious illness from the virus. During subsequent phases, additional campaigns will be undertaken advising of eligibility during that phase. At any time, patients can find out when it’s their turn to get vaccinated by accessing the Vaccine Eligibility Tracker.

Patient cohorts eligible for vaccines under the different phases of the rollout are listed on the webpage, “When will I get a COVID-19 vaccine”. Priority 1B populations have been identified to ensure that limited supplies of vaccine are available to people at greatest risk first. Patients will need to provide proof of these conditions to demonstrate their eligibility e.g. via My health record, a health professional referral if required, or a declaration form.

While the Australian Department of Health has produced a decision guide for people who are pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning pregnancy however, it currently only relates to the Pfizer vaccine. The Royal Australian & New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists statement was updated on 22 February 2021, and states that, although the available data do not indicate any safety concern or harm to pregnancy, there is insufficient evidence to recommend routine use of COVID-19 vaccines during pregnancy.

However, if a pregnant woman meets the definition of being particularly vulnerable, then she should discuss the option of COVID-19 vaccination with her obstetrician, GP and/or midwife. This is based on the observation that people with certain underlying medical conditions are at very high risk of experiencing serious complications of COVID-19. Read the whole statement here.

You can get verbal consent from a patient however this needs to be recorded in the clinical record.

If a patient is unable to provide proof of eligibility they can sign a Phase 1b declaration form. This form will be available soon from the Department website.

Self-identification as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander is sufficient evidence. Please refer to page 12 of the onboarding guide.

Yes, any staff working in a health facility are eligible under phase 1b.

Health workers are included in phase 1b so you can choose to vaccinate your own staff. Practices might consider keeping your own staff vaccination for use of remaining doses if there are cancellations when vaccinating your patents, and staggering to minimise impact of expected side effects. If practices prefer to preserve their allocated doses for patients, staff can also be vaccinated at an MSH vaccine hub or a GP respiratory clinic.

If a resident did not receive the first dose of the vaccine when the vaccine administrator held the clinic, the RACF should contact their GP to access vaccination through the phase 1b rollout. Brisbane South PHN is working with the vaccine provider and RACFs to implement local solutions for residents who did not receive the second dose, to ensure this is administered within the optimal timeframes.

No new process has been determined yet. However, we will provide further details as soon as they are available. Patients are still able to provide informed consent to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, where the clinical benefit outweighs the potential risks.

Billing

Standard MBS multiple same-day attendance rules apply to the COVID-19 vaccination suitability assessment services. Co-claiming is only permitted where another GP service is provided that is unrelated to the vaccine suitability assessment item. More information can be found here Medicare Benefits Schedule – Note AN.44.1.

No, all practitioners must have completed the training prior to administering the vaccine or billing the associated Medicare item number.

Systems and reporting

The COVID-19 Vaccination Information and Booking Service will list all practices who are participating in phase 1b. Patients will be able to check their eligibility and, if eligible, will be provided with links to clinics in their area. You do not need to change your usual booking process (telephone, online booking system) as the system will provide this information to the patient and they will contact the practice directly via their usual booking processes.


You do not need to do anything as your details will be confirmed when you access the portal. All practices will automatically be listed.
If you do not have an existing online booking system and wish to use one, then you can opt to use the Department of Health’s online booking system – however this will not integrate with your patient data management system.


When you login to the portal you will be asked if you wish to use the national booking system. Only answer yes to this question if you would like to use the non-mandatory online booking system that the Department of Health is providing. If you select no, you will be still listed on the service and patients will book with you through your usual process.

COVID-19 vaccine encounters should be uploaded into AIR at the time of vaccine administration, or as soon as possible within 24 hours. Page 7 of the onboarding guide provides options for reporting a vaccination to the AIR, including directly from your practice software.

Checking AIR history will enable you to confirm that:
• the patient has not already received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine at another location
• the patient has not recently received a flu vaccination
• the appropriate time has passed between first and second doses.

COVID-19 vaccine providers in Queensland must report COVID-19 AEFIs using the COVID 19 Adverse Event Following Immunisation Reporting Form and send to COVID_AEFI@health.qld.gov.au. If you follow this process you do not need to complete a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) AEFI form, this will be done automatically by QLD Health.

More information can be found on the Queensland Health Website – adverse event following immunisation.

With thanks to Brisbane North PHN for creating the original version of this frequently asked questions document.

COVID-19 vaccine FAQ for non-participating practices in phase 1b

Patient consent and eligibility

The Vaccine Eligibility Tracker is now live. Patients will be able to assess their eligibility and access a list of participating vaccine providers in their area.

The phase 1b roll out in general practice will take place over 4 weeks starting on the 22nd March 2021. There are 231 participating practices in the Brisbane South region – 47 practices will start in week 1, 25 practices in week 2, 71 practices in week 3 and 88 practices in week 4. Initial allocation of doses has been quite conservative until available supply increases; therefore, patients may not be able to access the vaccine immediately.

The following priority population groups are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine under phase 1b and includes anyone eligible under phase 1a. Patients can also check their eligibility with the online Vaccine Eligibility Checker

Phase 1a priority population groups include:

  • quarantine and border workers
  • frontline health care workers
  • aged care and disability residents
  • aged care and disability staff.

Phase 1b priority population groups include:

  • people 70 years of age or older
  • health care workers
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults over 55 years
  • people with an underlying medical condition, including people with a disability
  • critical and high-risk workers, including Australian Government officials about to be deployed overseas on official government business.

Patients will need to prove their eligibility to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

Healthcare WorkersProof of occupation (ID card, letter from employer) or Phase 1B Declaration Form
Critical and high risk workersProof of occupation (ID card, letter from employer) or Phase 1B Declaration Form
People over 70 yearsAll standard forms of identification (drivers licence, passport) will be accepted
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 55 yearsSelf-identification as an Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander
Person (remember to ask the question)
People over 18 years with an underlying medical condition, including disabilityMedical records (for example, a clinic record, My Health Record, printout of chronic disease plan); a referral from a GP or treating specialist; or a Phase 1B Declaration Form
Carers and disability workersCarers documentation or
proof of occupation (ID card or letter from employer/centre-based support provider); or a Phase 1B Declaration Form
Booking

Patients can book an appointment with a participating practice directly, without going through the online booking system. The Vaccine Eligibility Tracker assists patients to determine their eligibility and provides a list of participating practices, however it is not compulsory for patients to use this service to book their COVID-19 vaccine.

All eligible patients in Australia can access the COVID-19 vaccine even if they do not have a Medicare card. Patients who do not have a Medicare card can access the COVID-19 vaccine through Commonwealth funded GP Respiratory Clinics.

General practice staff, including non-clinical staff are eligible under phase 1b and can contact a participating general practice to arrange their vaccination. A list of participating practices will be listed on The Vaccine Eligibility Tracker.

Registration

If you submitted an EOI and received an ineligible letter but you are now eligible e.g. your accreditation status has changed, please email COVIDsupport@bsphn.org.au and you will be added to a wait list.

If you submitted an EOI and received an eligible letter and then withdrew from phase 1b and now wish to opt back-in, please email COVIDsupport@bsphn.org.au and you will be added to a wait list.

If you did not submit an EOI or you are a non-accredited practice, you cannot join the phase 1b rollout at this stage. There will be an opportunity to participate in the next phase and we will be in touch when we have more information.

Patient preparation

As your patient’s usual provider, you play an important role in informing and preparing your patients for their COVID-19 vaccine. You may wish to do any or all of the following:

  • notify your eligible patients of where they can access the vaccine
  • support your patients to provide proof of their eligibility by uploading a shared health summary to My Health Record or for paper based practices you could provide a letter for your patient to take to their vaccination appointment confirming their eligibility
  • help answer any questions they have about the vaccine (there will be patient resources available soon to support this).
  • set realistic expectations on when patients might be able to access the vaccine due to demand being higher than current supply

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has provided advice on when the influenza vaccine can be provided to patients receiving the COVID-19 vaccination. ATAGI advice on the relative timing of administering influenza and COVID-19 vaccines in 2021 Version 2.0

If your practice is delivering the influenza vaccination you should include checking whether a patient has recently received or is due to receive a COVID-19 vaccination as part of your screening process.

All COVID-19 vaccine information will be uploaded to AIR and can be accessed on the AIR site via Health Professional Online Services (HPOS) or via the patient’s My Health Record.

Billing

No, for a service to be valid, a COVID-19 vaccine must be available for immediate delivery to a patient who is assessed as suitable. You can however bill a consult item number (e.g. Item 23).

More information can be found here Medicare Benefits Schedule – Note AN.44.1

Adverse events following immunisation

You or the patient should notify the provider who administered the vaccine immediately so they can follow the appropriate AEFI reporting process. If this is not possible you can report the AEFI yourself following the below process.

COVID-19 vaccine providers in Queensland must report COVID-19 AEFIs using the COVID 19 Adverse Event Following Immunisation Reporting Form and send to COVID_AEFI@health.qld.gov.au.

If you follow this process you did not need to complete a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) AEFI form, this will be done automatically by QLD Health.

More information can be found on the Queensland Health Website – adverse event following immunisation.

With thanks to Brisbane North PHN for creating the original version of this document.

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