Protecting older Australians: COVID-19 update 29 January 2021

An update on COVID-19 vaccines, including the Therapeutic Goods Administration provisional approval of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and how to keep up to date with trusted information.

Date published:
Audience:
Health sector

COVID-19 vaccines

Therapeutic Goods Administration provisional approval of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine for use in Australia for people 16 years of age and older.

This means the vaccine has met the TGA’s rigorous standards for safety, quality and efficacy and that the roll-out of the national COVID-19 vaccination program is expected to begin in February.

Residential aged care workers and residents are a priority and will be among the first people in Australia to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

The Australian Government’s COVID-19 Vaccines National Rollout Strategy has more information about the Phases of the vaccine rollout.

Australian Health Protection Principal Committee advice

While the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) strongly encourages COVID-19 vaccination, at this time AHPPC does not recommend mandating COVID-19 vaccination for the aged care workforce. The AHPPC will continue to monitor the situation.

You can read more about this on the department's website.

Keep up to date with trusted information

You can find more information, including translated information, and subscribe to receive the COVID-19 Vaccines Updates on our COVID-19 vaccines website.

Updated First 24 hours – managing COVID-19 in a residential aged care facility check list

The first 24 hours in the management of a confirmed COVID-19 case in a residential aged care facility (RACF) is critical to minimise the spread of the virus. The First 24 hours – managing COVID-19 in a residential aged care facility check list describes the steps providers should take after the identification of a COVID-19 positive case over the:

  • first 30 minutes
  • minutes 30 to 60
  • hours 2 to 3
  • hours 4 to 6
  • hours 6 to 12
  • hours 12 to 24. 

Please familiarise yourself and your staff with the updated check list and use in conjunction with your COVID Outbreak Management Plan to minimise the spread of the virus.

Free webinar: understanding dementia and trauma in aged care

A person living with dementia may have experienced trauma at some point in their life. Dementia is a complex condition that can affect how the person responds to the lived experience of trauma from their past.

This webinar is provided by Phoenix Australia – the centre for posttraumatic mental health, under the Australians Government’s COVID-19 aged care grief and trauma response package.

This webinar is for clinical and wellbeing staff, health providers, leaders, managers, and peak bodies in the aged care sector. It will explore what dementia is; how trauma impacts people with dementia and what to look for; and how to use practical, trauma-informed strategies to support people impacted by dementia and trauma.

Speakers

  • Arsh Katoch, Service Manager, Dementia Support Australia
  • Nicole Sadler, Head, Policy and Practice, Phoenix Australia
  • Jane Nursey, Director, Clinical Services, Phoenix Australia
  • Dr Richard Bonwick, Psychiatrist

Date: Tuesday 2 February 2021
Time: 4 – 5pm.

Register for your free tickets (recommend to use Google Chrome).

A recording of this webinar will be available for viewing after the session for anyone who is not available at this time.

Updated NSW directions to aged care providers for visitors and staff

NSW Health advice for both Residential Aged Care Facilities and Home Care Service Providers has been updated as of 28 January 2021. Aged care providers are encouraged to ensure they read the full advice.

There are restrictions for visitors, staff and residents of residential aged care facilities located in areas of concern where COVID-19 is circulating in the community.

In NSW these include:

  • Cumberland City Council
  • Suburbs in the Mount Druitt area - Bidwill, Blackett, Doonside, Dharruk, Emerton, Hebersham, Lethbridge Park, Minchinbury, Mount Druitt, Shalvey, Tregear, Whalan, Wilmot
  • Rooty Hill
  • Interstate and overseas
  • Any person who has been to any contact tracing locations of interest in New Zealand since 14 January 2021.

For Residential Aged Care Facilities located in areas of concern, visitors should be excluded unless they are providing essential care to residents or for compassionate reasons.

For Residential Aged Care Facilities located in Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains), a maximum of two people can visit each day per resident. Different people may visit each day.

For Residential Aged Care Facilities located in regional NSW, there are no restrictions on the number of visitations a resident can have each day or at any one time.

Updated Queensland directions for aged care providers and visitors

Queensland Health has issued Aged Care Direction No.22 which came into effect from 1am on 22 January 2021. This direction is summarised below and we encourage you to be across the full detail of the direction.

There are no restricted Local Government Areas. A person can enter a residential aged care facility if they have been in Greater Brisbane since 2 January 2021.

Certain restrictions continue to apply to residential aged care facilities under the Aged Care Direction. Visitors, staff or volunteers at a residential aged care facility should not be anyone who:

  • is unwell
  • has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or asked to quarantine
  • has returned from overseas in the last 14 days (excluding safe travel zone countries)
  • has had contact with a person with COVID-19 in the last 14 days
  • has visited a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days or since the hotspot was declared (whichever is shorter)
  • has been tested for COVID-19 and is waiting for the result (except for tests due to surveillance testing obligations)
  • has COVID-19 symptoms of fever (37.5 degrees or more), cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, loss of smell or taste, runny nose, diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting or fatigue.

Resources

  • Health Minister Greg Hunt’s statement on the COVID-19 vaccine information campaign.
  • Factsheet: The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) explains the TGA process for assessing and approving COVID-19 vaccines and how they make sure the vaccines are safe and effective.
  • Report: Weekly data snapshot on COVID-19 outbreaks in Australian Residential Aged Care.
  • Infographics: a collection of weekly infographics that provide a traffic light report of the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation across Australia
  • First 24 hours – managing COVID-19 in a residential aged care facility check list

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