Vaccinating your patients against COVID-19
What to provide your patients, how to check the AIR, reporting vaccinations, charging, DVA patients, and reporting adverse events.
See resources for COVID-19 vaccine providers for links to patient information and clinic resources.
Checking the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)
Your practice should take reasonable steps to confirm that a person is eligible to receive the vaccine. This includes checking the AIR for any previous vaccinations.
You must record the patient’s informed consent for all vaccinations.
Ensure the patient is aware of any rare side effects associated with the vaccine and symptoms to look out for.
If your patient speaks a language other than English, there are a range of translated resources and support services available.
There is a special consent form (insert link) for children aged 5-11 years. Younger children require more parental support and often need a longer time for vaccine administration than older children and adults. Parents prefer to be present and may be more likely to have questions for providers, requiring a longer consult than usual. Additional time for vaccinating children aged 5-11 years should be factored into clinic throughput times.
You must observe patients for 15 minutes following their COVID-19 vaccination.
This can be in a dedicated waiting room or other safe observation area.
There are no extra staff capability requirements above the standard general practice accreditation requirements.
Appropriate physical distancing must be maintained during observation periods.
Vaccine administration errors and advice for revaccination
If there is deviation of the vaccine schedule, or an administration error such as incorrect dosing has occurred, follow the guidance in ATAGI's replacement doses for invalid primary courses of COVID-19 vaccines guidelines and the clinical guidance.
Reporting vaccinations to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)
You should report each patient’s COVID-19 vaccination (including those not eligible for Medicare) to the AIR within 24 hours if possible. Real-time or end-of-day reporting is appropriate, as determined by your practice procedures.
Air Secure Site
If you can’t use your existing software to record the vaccination you can use the AIR Secure Site. The Air Secure site can record new patients including those without a Medicare number.
Visit Services Australia for more information.
Proof of vaccination
To ensure equitable access to COVID-19 proof of vaccination, vaccination providers can download and print ALL patients’ immunisation history statements or COVID-19 digital certificates from the AIR site on their behalf as a regular course of action.
The Services Australia website has information about how providers can print proof of vaccination for all patients, including those who do not have Medicare or an Individual Health Identifier (IHI).
Recording batch numbers in the AIR
You must enter the batch number of each vaccination into the AIR. Batch numbers are short enough to enter by hand (8 digits). A barcode scanner is not essential.
Some clinical software can automatically upload serial numbers into the AIR. If you have a barcode scanner, and your clinical software has this enabled, you can opt to scan the barcode instead.
The barcode includes the GTIN, batch number, expiry date and serial number (if it exists).
AIR reporting penalties
With Services Australia, we provide education and support to assist providers with meeting reporting requirements.
Laws were introduced in February 2021 which make reporting vaccination to the AIR mandatory. This allows the Australian Government to track and trace every COVID-19 vaccine administered in Australia.
It also allows the Government to pursue a civil penalty for vaccination providers that do not report.
Civil penalties are a last resort where the failure to report is deliberate and ongoing, even after education and support have been provided.
Charging for the vaccine
You cannot charge to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. COVID-19 vaccination is free for everyone in Australia regardless of Medicare or visa status. The consultation appointment for patients to receive their COVID-19 vaccinations is also free.
If your patient does not have a Medicare card, or is not eligible for Medicare you can still administer COVID-19 vaccines, but you cannot bill for this service.
Patients without Medicare can also receive their free COVID-19 vaccine from:
- Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics
- state or territory COVID-19 vaccination clinics
- participating community pharmacies.
Find out what you can and can't charge for COVID-19 vaccine-related services.
Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) patients
Administering COVID-19 vaccines to DVA patients is the same as to the general public. This includes arrangements for billing through the Medicare Benefits Schedule (MBS).
For Medicare-eligible DVA patients, general practices can use the same MBS item numbers used for the general public.
DVA clients can use their Veteran Card with usual arrangements for:
- using a Veteran Gold Card
- using a Veteran White Card if it relates to an accepted condition (Services Australia will accept the clinical judgement of the general practitioner to determine what accepted condition requires the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine).
General practices should invoice DVA for COVID-19 vaccination administered to eligible DVA patients.
Reporting adverse events and suspected side effects
As a health professional, your reports of adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) are valuable. These reports help build a detailed safety profile of the vaccine.
If you are practising in the ACT, NSW, NT, Qld or WA you are required under public health legislation to notify AEFIs to your state or territory health department.
Please visit the TGA website for information on how to make a report.