COVID-19 vaccine aged care readiness toolkit
Information to assist residential aged care providers prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Thursday 8 April 2021: The Australian Government is reviewing the COVID-19 vaccination program rollout. This webpage will be updated with the new rollout details as soon as possible. Please read the ATAGI statement for the latest information about the recent AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safety advice.
Residential aged care residents and workers are among the first people in Australia to be offered a COVID-19 vaccine.
As a residential aged care service provider, you have an important role in ensuring a safe rollout of COVID-19 vaccines to the community.
You are required to:
- prepare your facility, staff and residents for vaccination day
- obtain and record residents’ consent
- monitor and report adverse events
- provide information to your residents.
Prepare your facility, workers and residents for vaccination day
The following resources are available to help you plan and prepare for COVID-19 vaccination in your facility:
- Planning checklist for vaccination day – a checklist for residential aged care facilities to work through in preparing for the vaccination clinic. This covers:
- supporting residents on the day
- GPs and allied health.
- Clinical governance requirements – steps out the roles and responsibilities of the residential aged care facility and the vaccine workforce, in planning and preparing for the clinic, on the day of the clinic, and after the clinic.
- Residential aged care rollout process – illustrates the key steps that should occur in the rollout of the Pfizer vaccine to residential aged care facilities.
- Consent in the residential aged care context – sets out considerations for consent in the residential aged care context, including:
- supported decision-making and substitute decision-makers
- information for all Australians.
- Consent process flow chart – sets out consent pathways and assessment of residents’ clinical suitability for a vaccine, ahead of time and on the day.
- Site readiness checklist – a checklist for the physical clinic set up.
- What to expect on vaccination day – information for residents, families and carers about what to expect in the lead up to, and on vaccination day.
- Triage process and scenario mapping for residential aged care facilities – guidance for residential aged care facilities to navigate and manage various scenarios that may arise during the COVID-19 vaccine program rollout.
- COVID-19 vaccine dose policy – policy guidance on administering COVID-19 vaccines in residential aged care facilities, including management of excess doses, make up doses and alternative access to vaccination.
- Eligibility fact sheet for Phase 1a – guidance on which residential aged care staff are eligible to receive a vaccine in Phase 1a.
Obtain and record resident consent
As with all other vaccines, informed consent is required for each COVID-19 vaccine dose. Residential aged care providers are responsible for this process which must be completed ahead of the vaccination day.
Guidance on consent in the residential aged care context can assist with this process.
How does my facility capture consent?
There are two ways to capture consent:
- written consent: you can use the Australian Government’s written consent form or use your own form. If you use your own consent form, you must capture the necessary information to show that the resident consents to a COVID-19 vaccine.
- verbal consent: if you receive verbal consent, you must record it in a resident’s care notes, following usual practices.
Does my facility need to receive consent prior to the first and second dose?
You need to obtain the resident's consent to receive both doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
You can obtain consent for both doses at the same time, prior to the person receiving their first dose.
You must keep a record of the resident's consent. This record used to confirm consent prior to both doses.
If you are obtaining consent verbally, you must confirm if consent is being provided for the two doses of the same vaccine. Record this through your usual practices.
The Department of Health's consent form provides that consent is for "a course of COVID-19 vaccine (i.e. two doses of the same vaccine)". If you are using this form, or an alternate form of written consent, ensure consent is understood as being provided for two doses of the same vaccine.
Residential aged care providers are responsible for keeping consent records for all residents.
Vaccine workforce providers may request a copy of residents' consent records from the residential aged care facility. You can provide this on request, however, must retain the original consent records on site.
For more information about valid consent, refer to the Australian Immunisation Handbook: Preparing for vaccination – Valid consent.
Some jurisdictions have specific requirements relevant to guardians (or substitute decision-makers) consenting on behalf of another person. Refer to relevant state and territory laws for more information.
Provide information to your residents
You need to provide residents and/or their representatives with detailed and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccination. You should give the following information sheets to potential recipients (before vaccination day):
- Information on COVID-19 Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine
- Information on COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine
- Preparing for COVID-19 vaccination
- What to expect on vaccination day
- After your COVID-19 Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine
- After your COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine
- Consent form.
These information sheets are available in several languages.
COVID-19 vaccines administration
Both the Pfizer (Comirnaty) and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines require the administration of 2 doses. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s (ATAGI) guidance for the administration of these doses differs for each vaccine.
ATAGI’s recommendation for the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is to have a 12 week dosing interval. The minimum acceptable interval between the two doses is 4 weeks.
Shortening the interval from 12 weeks to no less than 4 weeks between doses is acceptable and may be appropriate in certain circumstances. This includes expected travel or anticipated risk of COVID-19 exposure.
People 18 years and over can receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine
ATAGI’s recommendation for Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine is to have at least a 21 day dosing interval. The minimum acceptable interval between the two doses is 19 days. It is recommended to complete the two-dose course within 6 weeks.
People 16 years and over can receive the Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine.
Read further information about ATAGIs clinical guidance on the AstraZeneca and the Pfizer vaccines.
Monitor and report adverse events
Monitor residents for any side effects after vaccination. These are usually mild and go away within 2 days. They include:
- pain or swelling at the injection site
- muscle pain
- joint pain.
If residents experience pain at the injection site or fever, headaches or body aches after vaccination, they can take paracetamol or ibuprofen. These help reduce the above symptoms (they do not need to take paracetamol or ibuprofen before vaccination). If there is swelling at the injection site, they can use a cold compress.
Reporting adverse events
Health professionals are encouraged to report all serious reactions, known as adverse events, following immunisation (AEFI), particularly if they are unexpected or significant.
If a resident has an immediate serious reaction or is unwell in the days after a vaccination, you can report it to either:
- your state or territory health unit
- Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Residential aged care facilities should also report serious reactions and events to the Vaccine Operations Centre on 1800 318 208 or COVID19VaccineOperationsCentre [at] Health.gov.au.
Vaccine workforce provider in-reach teams are responsible for monitoring residents and reporting serious reactions for the first 15 minutes post-vaccination. After that initial period, residential aged care facilities are responsible for monitoring and reporting serious reactions.
See the monitoring and reporting adverse events fact sheet for more information.
Influenza (flu) and COVID-19 vaccine guidance for residential aged care
Annual vaccination is the most effective way to reduce the impact of influenza in the community, especially in aged care homes.
Residential aged care providers have certain responsibilities to prevent and control influenza and minimise infection related risks.
Interaction with the COVID-19 vaccination program
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advises the preferred minimum interval between receipt of a COVID-19 vaccine and any inactivated influenza vaccine is 14 days.
This means there needs to be at least a 14 day gap:
- between influenza vaccination, and
- a first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
The timing of your COVID-19 vaccination clinics and influenza clinics will need careful consideration to maintain this minimum 14 day gap. Influenza vaccinations for residents and staff should occur:
- 14 or more days before their first Pfizer dose;
- 14 or more days after their second (and final) Pfizer dose;
- 14 or more days before or after their first AstraZeneca dose; or
- 14 or more days before or after their second (and final) AstraZeneca dose.
Where services have already scheduled an in-reach influenza vaccination program for residents and staff, this can be considered in the scheduling of a COVID-19 vaccination clinic. This is to ensure the preferred minimum interval between the two.
Residential aged care facilities that have scheduled their flu vaccinations, but have not yet been scheduled for a COVID-19 vaccine in-reach clinic, should immediately contact their Primary Health Network (PHN). Your PHN will liaise with the vaccine workforce suppliers on your behalf.
For more information you can read:
- ATAGIs clinical guidance on use of COVID-19 vaccine in Australia , and
- ATAGIs advice on influenza and COVID-19 vaccines.
National coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline
If you need information about COVID-19, COVID-19 vaccines or help with the COVIDSafe app, call the telephone number listed below. If you need assistance with booking a COVID-19 vaccine appointment, please note the call centre is unable to book appointments on your behalf.