2023 COVID-19 vaccination booster dose
It is important that residents have every opportunity to receive a 2023 COVID-19 booster dose.
If you are 65 years or over, we strongly recommend you get a 2023 COVID-19 booster vaccine. You can have a 2023 booster if it has been 6 months or more since your last COVID-19 infection or vaccine. It is still safe to get a booster even if you are unsure if you have had COVID-19 in the last 6 months.
A COVID-19 booster will give you more immunity as we head into winter and is the best way to protect you from severe illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.
The COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary but strongly encouraged for residents in aged care homes and all people over 65.
Where available, we encourage the bivalent vaccine as this offers additional protection against the original COVID-19 virus and the most recent Omicron variants.
Providers and families of older people have an important role to play in offering and recommending the 2023 COVID-19 vaccination boosters to residents. If residents, care recipients or their families have concerns about getting the booster, having early conversations and encouraging them to talk to their doctor or other health professional about the benefits and risks of vaccination can help.
A recent study by the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS), showed that COVID-19 vaccinations are particularly beneficial for people living in aged care homes.
Among Australian adults aged 65 years or older, having a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose in the last three months reduced the risk of death from COVID-19 by as much as 93% compared to those who were unvaccinated. After 6 months, the risk is still reduced by more than 50%.
Read more about the study and book your COVID-19 vaccination now with your GP or pharmacist or by using one of the easy steps below:
- Text ‘Hey EVA’ to 0481 611 382 for a call back to book an appointment with Easy Vaccine Access (EVA)
- Call 1800 020 080 to find a vaccine clinic near you and get contact information to make a booking
- Use the Online service finder.
It is safe to get a COVID-19 vaccination at the same time as an influenza vaccination. Getting both at the same time can be an effective way to make sure you are protected this winter.
Ask your GP or pharmacist about booking in for your COVID-19 and flu vaccines or book your COVID-19 vaccine.
There are many ways to get a COVID-19 booster this winter:
- Book an appointment with your GP or pharmacist
- By text: the Easy Vaccine Access (EVA) service is an easy way to book your COVID-19 vaccination. Text ‘Hey EVA’ to 0481 611 382 to get a call back from a call agent
- By phone: 1800 020 080 is a 24-hour helpline that can help you find a vaccine clinic and give you contact information to make a booking
- Find a health service that provides vaccinations on the Online service finder.
Question 1 – Why is it important to support conversations with older people, residents and their families about vaccinations, including the 2023 COVID-19 booster?
Older people including those living in residential aged care homes, are more likely to experience severe disease from COVID-19 that can be prevented with the booster. Aged care providers, families of older people and vaccine providers have an important role to play in offering and strongly recommending COVID-19 vaccination and boosters.
Having early conversations with older people and their families about the importance of vaccinations and how they will help them protect themselves their families and their communities, against serious illness and potential hospitalisation is often highly valued.
Home Care and CHSP providers should engage with care recipients and have discussions about vaccinations and encourage them to speak to their GPs or pharmacists about getting the COVID-19 booster dose.
Question 2 – Do I need the 2023 COVID-19 booster if I am an aged care worker?
Being an aged care worker can increase your risk of exposure to COVID-19, therefore it is recommended that workers get their booster doses to try to reduce this risk. The goal of the current 2023 COVID-19 booster program is to reduce the risk of severe illness.
If you are aged 65 years and older or 18 years and older with risk factors for severe COVID-19, you should have a booster dose 6 months after your last COVID-19 vaccine dose or infection.
If you are aged 18 to 64 years and have no risk factors for severe disease, including aged care workers, your doctor or immunisation provider can help you decide whether you need a booster based on your individual circumstances. For more information on the 2023 booster recommendations, please visit our website: COVID-19 booster vaccine advice.
Aged care workers who provide close personal care in residential aged care or home care settings should consider the 2023 booster dose and we encourage workers to discuss vaccination options with their GP or pharmacists. Getting the booster dose will not only protect you but it will protect the people you are caring for.
Question 3 – Why should older people and residents in residential aged care homes get a COVID-19 booster dose?
COVID-19 is a serious disease that can cause severe illness and hospitalisation. Older people, including those living in residential aged care homes and with underlying medical conditions are at the highest risk and can get severe disease. The virus is also easily spread by people with few or no symptoms; even if you may not become unwell with COVID-19, you may pass the virus on to others without knowing it and they may become very ill. By vaccinating yourself and others from severe COVID-19.
Home Care and CHSP providers should encourage staff to get a COVID-19 booster dose as this will continue to protect them and allow them to continue providing quality care and services to care recipients.
These arrangements, including updating the MAC portal, are currently under consideration.
The Department of Health and Aged Care along with the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission have put new arrangements in place for education based on the COVID-19 Infection Control Online Training Modules. This training is available for approved aged care providers and employees of approved providers. It covers the fundamentals of infection prevention and control (IPC) for COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases.
Users can access the training at the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission’s aged care learning information system – Alis. Alis accounts are currently provided free of charge for all approved aged care providers and employees of approved providers. You can sign up or log in to Alis at: learning.agedcarequality.gov.au.
Learners can download a completion certificate from Alis once the modules have been completed, and administrators have access to completion data for their staff.
Additional online IPC training that is suitable for the aged care sector is available at:
- Infection prevention and control for aged care | Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care – suitable for all aged care workers
- Infection prevention and control - advanced education eLearning modules | Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care- suitable for health care workers and organisations, aged and disability care workers and organisations, and workforce groups such as beauticians
- Partnerships in care | Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission - suitable for partners, or potential partners in care, or for other visitors to aged care homes.
It is important that aged care providers, including IPC lead nurses, are aware of the full suite of IPC training available for the aged care sector. All aged care workers are encouraged to complete IPC training at the start of their employment and annually to ensure their knowledge is current.
Continued strong uptake of oral antiviral medications remain important in residential aged care settings. The oral antivirals Lagevrio® and Paxlovid® are available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) for all people aged 70 years or older. Please ensure your COVID-19 positive residents have access to oral antivirals, prescribed by a medical practitioner as a priority.
People aged 60 to 69 years with one risk factor are now eligible to receive Paxlovid for treatment of COVID-19.
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: AgedCareCOVIDEnquiries@health.gov.au.