The Australian Government has announced that boosters are now available for people who have completed their primary course of a COVID-19 vaccination more than six months ago, including residents and workers in residential aged care.
This follows recommendations by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and the expert Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) on COVID-19 booster vaccinations. Please refer to ATAGI recommendations on the use of a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
The expert advice is that people are eligible for a booster vaccination if they completed their second dose of a primary course more than six months ago. A primary course for COVID-19 vaccination is two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine for most people.
It is very important residents and workers in residential aged care are reassured that people who have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are fully vaccinated. This means they are very well protected against serious illness, hospitalisation or death from COVID-19.
There is little evidence worldwide that protection against serious illness from COVID-19 wanes over time in those people who have received two doses of a vaccine.
A booster dose will boost a person’s immune response and provide an additional layer to further reduce the risk of breakthrough infection (when a fully vaccinated person gets COVID-19 and is at risk of transmitting the virus to others).
The Australian Government will be rolling out an in-reach clinic program for booster doses to residential aged care facilities. More information on the program is provided below.
SAVE THE DATE – WEBINAR FOR ALL RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE PROVIDERS
The Department will convene a special live webinar on Wednesday 3 November 2021 from 1.30pm – 2.30pm AEDT to discuss the planned roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine booster program for residents and workers. This webinar is open to providers, facility managers and IPC leads, residents and their families, friends and representatives, and residential aged care workers. See below for details.
What you need to know
The national rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine booster doses will be based on the timing of a person’s primary course (at least two doses).
Residents and workers in residential aged care facilities who have completed their primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine at least six months ago will be offered a booster through Commonwealth in-reach clinics, similar to the clinics that delivered the initial first and second dose clinics for residents.
Primary Health Networks will contact each residential aged care facility to advise you of your Commonwealth vaccine provider and to assist you to prepare for your clinic. You will then be contacted by the vaccine provider to set a date for your clinic, confirm the number of doses, discuss vaccine delivery protocols and ensure preparations have been made prior to your clinic day.
The timing for your in-reach booster clinic will be determined by date on which your facility received its dose 2 clinic for residents. The dose 2 clinic is the clinic where the majority of your residents received their second dose vaccination. The booster clinics will be timed to occur at least 6 months from the date of your dose 2 clinic for residents.
Family members of residents and of workers will not be vaccinated at your in-reach clinic. They can access a booster dose through other channels including GPs and state-run vaccination clinics.
Prior to your scheduled clinic, the department will send your facility detailed information to assist you to prepare for your in-reach clinic. This will include information to share with your residents and workers who will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 booster vaccine.
What you need to do
1.Decide who will deliver your COVID-19 vaccine booster clinic
Facilities can choose to request a GP to conduct an on-site booster clinic or accept the offer from the Commonwealth to deliver an in-reach booster clinic.
If you prefer to have a visiting GP deliver the in-reach COVID-19 booster clinic you can make those arrangements directly or request assistance from your local Primary Health Network in accessing a GP.
1.Start engaging with your residents and workers
As with the previous in-reach clinics for residents, facilities are responsible for organising consent from residents. The Australian Government’s consent form has been updated to incorporate consent for boosters are available.
Facilities are required to support residents to consent to receiving a booster vaccination and making the consent forms available to the Commonwealth vaccine provider on the day of clinic.
Facilities are encouraged to start discussions with eligible residents on the upcoming COVID-19 booster program and to begin seeking consent from residents or their substitute decision maker.
Facilities are required to keep a copy of the consent form on resident’s records.
All facilities are strongly encouraged to review the guidelines for obtaining consent, planning checklist, and clinical governance requirements for vaccination day. These documents have been updated for the booster program and will be available shortly at the links provided.
Facilities should engage with your workers now and advise them that those who will be eligible for a booster at the time of your scheduled booster clinic will be able to get vaccinated at the same time as residents.
For residents or workers not yet eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine booster
If a resident at your facility is not due for the COVID-19 booster vaccine at the time of your in-reach booster clinic, your facility should liaise with a GP or pharmacist to administer the booster when it is due (i.e. six months following a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine). This may apply, for example, to residents who entered your facility following your previous in-reach vaccination clinics.
Residents or workers who require a first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine can receive a vaccination at the booster clinic.
Workers who are eligible to receive a booster vaccine at the time of your scheduled in-reach COVID-19 vaccine booster clinic for residents can receive their booster at the same time as residents.
For workers who will not be eligible at the time of your scheduled in-reach booster clinic, please reassure your workers they will continue to have priority access to a Pfizer vaccine through all other vaccination channels when they are due for a booster.
It is also important to know that a booster vaccination is different to a third dose. ATAGI has recommended only people who are severely immunocompromised should receive a third dose as part of their primary course.
If you have residents or workers who are assessed by a GP as requiring a third dose because they are severely immunocompromised, these people should receive a third dose as soon as possible.
ATAGI has not issued advice on whether people who require a third dose will need a booster.
National webinar on COVID-19 booster vaccination rollout in residential aged care
A special live webinar hosted by the Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Senator the Hon Richard Colbeck will be held on Wednesday 3 November 2021 from 1.30pm – 2.30pm AEDT.
The Australian Government ‘s national in-reach clinic program for booster doses to residential aged care facilities will roll out from Monday 8 November 2021.
Boosters are now available for people who completed their primary course (two doses) of a COVID-19 vaccination more than six months ago, including residents and workers in residential aged care.
People who have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are fully vaccinated. This means they are very well protected against serious illness, hospitalisation or death from COVID-19.
A booster dose will boost a person’s immune response and provide an additional layer of protection to further reduce the risk of breakthrough infection (when a fully vaccinated person gets COVID-19 and is at risk of transmitting the virus to others).
This webinar is for:
- residential aged care providers
- residential aged care facility managers and IPC leads
- residents, their families and representatives
- residential aged care workers.
We encourage you to organise screening of the live webinar in communal areas in your facility for residents and workers.
This webinar will address the national roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine booster program in residential aged care including:
- What you need to know about COVID-19 booster vaccinations
- How the in-reach booster clinics will be delivered
- Roles and responsibilities of vaccine providers and facilities
- How to prepare for your in-reach clinic, including consent
- What to do if it’s been less than six months since your second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine
- How to support and engage with residents and workers.
Minister Colbeck will be joined by the following Commonwealth Department of Health representatives:
- Mr Michael Lye, Deputy Secretary, Ageing and Aged Care Group
- Adj. Professor Alison McMillan, Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer
- Ms Teena Blewitt, Deputy Coordinator General, National COVID Vaccine Taskforce
- Mr James Hart, First Assistant Secretary, Disability and Aged Care Rollout, National COVID Vaccine Taskforce
- Ms Lisa Peterson, Assistant Secretary, COVID-19 Vaccine Aged Care
- Mr Craig Gear, Chief Executive Officer, Older Persons Advocacy Network.
A Q&A session will be included in the live webinar.
Participants can submit questions to VacTaskForceAgedCare_Comms@Health.gov.au any time before the webinar. Please note “National Webinar” in the subject heading of your email.
This webinar is FREE and registration is not required.
The webinar will be recorded and available on the department’s website for on demand viewing.
The details to join the webinar are provided below:
Join by personal device or computer:
Event number: 2654 555 0559
Event password: 9876 (9876 from phones)
Join by phone
+61-2-9338-2221 Australia Toll
Access code: 2654 555 0559