Date published: 
30 March 2021
Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

Update: Vaccine rollout in Queensland

From 5.00pm AEST, 29 March 2021, all of Queensland has been declared a restricted area in response to COVID-19 cases detected in Brisbane.

These restrictions will not affect the rollout of vaccines to impacted facilities. Vaccine workforce provider teams will comply with Queensland Government public health orders including wearing the required PPE to protect residents and staff while administering vaccines.

Further guidance is available on the department's website.

Influenza vaccinations in residential aged care facilities

Guidance about influenza vaccination and the COVID-19 vaccination program is now available on health.gov.au.

The timing of residential aged care facilities’ COVID-19 vaccination clinics and influenza clinics will need careful consideration to maintain the recommended minimum 14 day interval.

Flu 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.

Watch the COVID-19 vaccine roll out in aged care webinar

Thank you to those who joined us for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in aged care webinar last Friday 26 March. If you weren’t able to join us you can now view the recording on the department’s website.

The department will publish responses to questions that could not be answered during the webinar shortly.

Scheduling of COVID-19 vaccination clinics for residents

Scheduling of all residential aged care facilities is underway to deliver doses as safely and efficiently as possible for residents. All residential aged care facilities scheduled for the next two weeks have been notified of their vaccination dates.

If your facility has not yet been notified of your vaccination date, please know that all residential aged care facilities have been allocated to a vaccine workforce provider for scheduling.

We appreciate the need for you to have as much notice as possible. The department is planning to publish forward schedules by mid-April that will provide longer lead time for residential aged care facilities.

Make up doses for people who miss a second COVID-19 vaccine dose

The department has updated its COVID-19 vaccine doses policy. This includes guidance on how to manage make up doses for people who miss a second COVID-19 vaccine dose.

In the early stages of the rollout, vaccine workforce providers were encouraged to vaccinate workers and others in residential aged care facilities with leftover vaccine doses after all consenting residents had been vaccinated, in line with an excess dose policy.

The updated policy specifies that people should only be vaccinated if they expect to be at the facility to receive both doses.

Importantly, first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine should not be delivered at a second dose clinic.

There are some people who received a first dose in line with the previous excess doses policy. PHNs will work with facilities and vaccine workforce providers to identify and enact local solutions to ensure these people receive their second dose.

Residential aged care facilities should contact their local PHN if there are residents or staff in their facility that did not receive their second vaccine at a vaccination clinic.

COVID-19 vaccine update for residential aged care staff

It is a priority to deliver choice and flexibility in accessing COVID-19 vaccinations for aged care staff as quickly as possible in the safest way. The department has published an update for residential aged care staff to inform them on when and how they can access a COVID-19 vaccination.

The delivery model enables aged care staff to access a COVID-19 vaccination through a mix of in-reach and out-reach options which provide flexibility and choice:

  • GP Respiratory Clinics. Aged care workers can book an appointment now at the nearest clinic.
  • GP clinics through the online Vaccine Information and Location Service or directly through a participating GP clinic. Bookings can be made now subject to availability.
  • Dedicated aged care worker clinics for residential aged care staff. Aged care workers will be able to book an appointment. Details on the first of the pop-up locations will be made available in early April 2021. More pop up locations will follow.
  • Dedicated and Government approved in-reach vaccination clinics at some residential aged care facilities. Your residential aged care facility will be able to let you know if an in-reach clinic will be available.

A fact sheet is available for all residential aged care workers.

Update on link between AstraZeneca and blood clots

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has released an update for health care providers on the suitability of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for people with a history of clotting conditions.

Global reviews have found no link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and general clotting disorders. However the EMA and others are conducting investigations in Europe regarding reports of a specific clotting condition (cerebral venous sinus thrombosis, or CVST) following AstraZeneca vaccine.

For the time being, ATAGI recommends that vaccination with any COVID-19 vaccine should be deferred for people who have a history of the following rare conditions:

  • people with a confirmed medical history of CVST, and/or
  • people with a confirmed medical history of heparin induced thrombocytopenia (HIT).

This is until further information from ongoing investigations in Europe is available and is only a precautionary measure.

For more information read ATAGI's full statement.