Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 newsletter – 30 January 2023

In this issue: COVID-19 vaccination support; Reminder annual reporting for influenza vaccinations in aged care; and Changes to how services request Commonwealth COVID-19 Support , including RAT kits, PCR testing, Oral antiviral treatments, workforce and PPE.

Date published:
Health sector

Changes to how services request Commonwealth COVID-19 Support

From 1 February 2023, requests for Commonwealth supports are now managed through a central inbox, with State and Territory Network Case Management inboxes no longer being monitored.

Emails sent to a case management inbox from 1 February 2023 will receive an automatic reply with the following information on the revised process.

The new centralised contact point to request any of the following Commonwealth supports is Your request will be referred to the relevant area for action.

Further information on how to access supports is outlined below:

Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits

The Australian Government is providing RAT kits to all residential aged care homes for surveillance screening of staff and visitors. These will be delivered without you needing to place a request.

Should you wish to opt out of receiving this supply or alter the quantity and/or frequency of supply please contact the Department by email:

PCR testing

PCR testing may be required for residents and staff during an outbreak.
In-reach COVID-19 PCR testing continues to be available through pathology providers to residential aged care homes that are managing COVID-19 outbreaks, including through a dedicated service provided by Sonic Healthcare (Sonic) until 30 April 2023.

It remains a requirement that any requests for COVID-19 PCR testing should only be made where a medical practitioner GP has determined the testing is necessary to inform the clinical management of the resident or where the public health unit has determined PCR testing is needed to support outbreak management activities. Requests for in-reach PCR testing from Sonic can be made by emailing the Department:

Access to Medicare subsidised PCR testing can also be undertaken by regular respiratory PCR pathways for your residential aged care home following request from a GP or other primary care practitioners. These pathways should be prioritised.

Oral antivirals treatments

The oral antivirals Lagevrio® and Paxlovid® are available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme. Please ensure your COVID-19 positive residents have access to oral antivirals, prescribed by a medical practitioner as a priority.

If you need assistance accessing a prescriber, consider HealthDirect’s free helpline 1800 022 222 or the online Service Finder.

The Find a Pharmacy website is available for sourcing antivirals through community pharmacy channels, your Primary Health Network may also be able to assist connect you to a local prescriber.

If you are in outbreak and are unable to access antivirals quickly, please contact the Department via email:

Surge workforce

Residential aged care homes that need temporary surge workforce can contact the Department once all other attempts to access staff from your organisation’s internal or agency workforce have been unsuccessful. In the first instance the provider should aim to self-manage their workforce where possible.

For further information on surge workforce, please refer to COVID-19 Aged Care Workforce Measures FAQs.

For processing of workforce requests please contact the Department via email:

Reporting COVID-19 cases in your service

Residential aged care providers are required to report  ALL COVID-19 cases for residents, staff and visitors immediately to the Department of Health and Aged Care via the My Aged Care COVID-19 Support Portal.

With the State and Territory network Case Management inboxes no longer being monitored for updates to COVID cases, closures or requests for Commonwealth support, the My Aged Care COVID-19 Support Portal replaces email notification of a positive case in your facility.
You should also report COVID-19 positive cases to your Public Health Unit (PHU) immediately, if required. PHUs may require detailed individual-level information to assist aged care services.

Personal protective equipment (PPE)

The supply of PPE, through the NMS, continues to be available until 31 December 2023 to support residential aged care homes that are in outbreak when commercial supplies are unavailable or insufficient.

If your residential aged care home is experiencing an outbreak and you have exhausted all attempts to source PPE from commercial suppliers, you can request additional PPE through the My Aged Care Provider portal.

COVID-19 vaccination support

A reminder to residential aged care homes needing COVID-19 vaccination support this year, please contact and we will liaise with your local Primary Health Network to determine what assistance is available through primary care providers in your area.

Please do not directly approach Vaccine Administration Partners Program (VAPP) providers.

Reminder – reporting of aged care residents and aged care staff influenza vaccinations by end of January 2023

Under the Aged Care Act 1997, Accountability Principles, it is a requirement for each aged care service (listed below) to report annually on the number of residential aged care residents, and aged care staff (including home care workers) who received an influenza vaccination.

  • Home Care Package services – staff only
  • Residential Aged Care Service – residents and staff
  • Multipurpose Services – residents and staff
  •  Transition Care Program services delivered in a residential age care setting – residents and staff
  •  Short Term Restorative Care services delivered in residential aged care settings – residents and staff.

Provision of information from staff to aged care services about their influenza vaccination status is voluntary. However all services need to submit a report containing the information available to them.

To date, responses from home care services have been low. Home care services are strongly encouraged to submit a report detailing all aged care staff who have voluntarily informed aged care providers they received an influenza vaccination in 2022.

All services are strongly encouraged to submit their reports (as at 31 October 2022) via the online form prior to the end of January 2023 as the online form will no longer be available from February 2023.

Reporting of the number of residents and aged care staff who received an influenza vaccination annually is important information to support future activities in the lead up to each annual influenza season and to ensure adequate steps have been taken to protect residents and staff.

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