12 March 2021
Thank you for continuing to stay up to date with the latest information via this newsletter.
This edition includes information about the continuing rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine including information about influenza and COVID-19 vaccines, an update to the vaccine consent forms, vaccine schedule for the aged care workforce, an update to the excess dose use policy and information about monitoring and reporting adverse events.
You will also see a reminder about the eligibility of Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout, an update on cold chain responsibilities and information about the vaccine rollout to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
There is a reminder to complete the online survey that has been announced to assist the national review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian RACFs being conducted by Professor Lyn Gilbert and Adj Professor Alan Lilly.
Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce, particularly your communications teams and encourage them to subscribe for future updates. You can view past editions of the Protecting Older Australians Newsletter.
Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support should contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.
In this edition:
Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines
Residential aged care facilities should begin discussing their plans for booking external influenza vaccination providers with
- their Primary Health Network (PHN) if the facility has not yet been contacted by the vaccine workforce provider, or
- the Vaccine Workforce Provider when they make contact to advise the provider of their scheduled date for the COVID-19 vaccination clinic.
The PHN / Vaccine Workforce Provider will discuss scheduling options with residential aged care facilities to ensure both vaccines can be safely administered.
The recommended minimum interval between a dose of seasonal influenza vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine is 14 days.
Read the advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) on timing of administering Influenza and COVID-19 vaccines.
Update to consent form
The department’s consent form for COVID-19 vaccinations has been updated. It now captures the individual’s name and Medicare number on each page. RACFs are requested to ensure all future consent records use the updated form.
View the updated consent form.
COVID-19 vaccine schedule for residential aged care workforce
Residential aged care workers are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine under Phase 1a of the national rollout. While residents continue to be the current focus, information will be made available shortly about when and how staff can receive the vaccine.
Some staff may receive the vaccine if excess doses are available after all consenting residents have been vaccinated. Information will be made available on the department’s website.
Update to excess dose use policy
The department has updated its policy on excess dose use for COVID-19 vaccines at residential aged care facilities (RACFs). Once residents have been vaccinated, vaccine workforce providers should allocate excess doses based on these prioritisation principles:
- Any respite residents who are able to provide consent on the day
- Vaccine workforce provider staff
- RACF staff
- Essential Care Persons including GPs and other allied health professionals who routinely provide care within an RACF
- Other regular visitors to facilities including: Aged Care advocates, Dementia Australia staff, Community Visitor Scheme visitors, AN-ACC assessors, Aged Care Quality Safety Commission Quality Assessors on site on the day
- Family members of residents on site on the day.
Read the excess dose use policy online.
Monitoring and reporting adverse events
Vaccine workforce provider in-reach teams are responsible for monitoring individuals for the first 15 minutes post-vaccination. Any adverse events must be reported as per the relevant jurisdiction’s reporting requirements and to the Vaccine Operations Centre.
Responsibility for adverse event monitoring and reporting will then transfer to the RACF.
Read the Guidance on common side effects, immediate reactions and reporting online.
Reminder: eligibility for phase 1b of the vaccine rollout
The COVID-19 vaccine rollout for Phase 1b is scheduled to begin on 22 March 2021. It will include people over 80, people over 70, those who are immunocompromised, Indigenous Australians over 55, and frontline emergency service and defence workers.
Update: cold chain responsibilities
Residential aged care facilities are not permitted to accept COVID-19 vaccine deliveries. This is the responsibility of vaccine workforce providers, who assume responsibility for the vaccine from that point onwards.
Before that point, DHL is responsible for managing the storage of the vaccine, and consigning and dispatching orders and:
- ensures vaccines are stored in ultra-cold freezers, before getting packed into a validated packaging solution. This solution includes dry ice, to ensure it stays within the required temperature range while in transit. The Pfizer vaccine must be refrigerated below –70°C to remain effective.
- has back-to-base alarms and notification mechanisms in place to ensure that while the vaccine is under its care, it is controlled and maintained at the required temperature. This ensures products are constantly monitored through sophisticated temperature devices as they move through the distribution chain.
If there are concerns on the integrity of the vaccine on delivery, vaccine workforce providers are responsible for notifying DHL and the Vaccine Operations Centre immediately.
Vaccine rollout to support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
The Department has developed a comprehensive vaccine implementation plan to ensure the COVID-19 Vaccination Program meets the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
This plan has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19, and with state and territory governments.
Reminder: National Review of COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian RACFs - online survey closing soon
An invitation to complete the above survey was included in an announcement sent on 2 March 2021. The survey will be closing on Wednesday 17 March 2021. If you have already responded to the survey, thank you and please disregard this notice.
However, if you haven’t completed the survey, please do take the time to share your thoughts and experiences with the review. It only takes 10–15 minutes. Please click on the following link.
Your responses are very important to us.
- Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – After your Pfizer (CORMIRNATY) vaccine
- Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination – Triage process and scenario mapping for residential aged care facilities
- Presentation: Top 3 COVID-19 vaccine questions – Vaccine administration process, face masks and breastfeeding
- Strategy: COVID-19 Vaccination Program – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples Implementation Plan