Date published: 
9 April 2021
Type: 
Newsletter
Intended Audience: 
Health sector

What's New

Information on the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in residential aged care

The Australian Government places safety above all else, as it has done throughout the pandemic, and will continue to follow the medical advice in protecting Australians.

On 8 April 2021, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) issued new AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine safety advice to the Australian Government.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout to residents in aged care facilities will continue as planned. All aged care residents are receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as is the current program.

The Government is reviewing the planned rollout for vaccinating the aged care workforce who were to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. Further information will be provided as soon as possible.

ATAGI recommends the COVID-19 vaccine by Pfizer (Comirnaty) is preferred over COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca in adults aged under 50 years.

ATAGI’s advice is that people who have had the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse effects can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years.

Individuals with prior medical conditions or any specific concerns should consult with their GP or other health care provider.

For more information, please see statements from:

ATAGI statement: https://www.health.gov.au/news/atagi-statement-on-astrazeneca-vaccine-in-response-to-new-vaccine-safety-concerns

Department of Health Secretary and Chief Medical Officer statement: https://www.health.gov.au/news/joint-statement-on-covid-19-astrazeneca-vaccine-advice-from-atagi

TGA statement: https://www.tga.gov.au/media-release/astrazeneca-chadox1-s-covid-19-vaccine

The following resources have been updated on the Department’s website:

About the AstraZeneca vaccine
https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/learn-about-covid-19-vaccines/about-the-oxfordastrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine

Advice for vaccine providers
https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/information-for-covid-19-vaccination-providers

Are COVID vaccines safe
https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/learn-about-covid-19-vaccines/are-covid-19-vaccines-safe

Clinical considerations
https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/information-for-covid-19-vaccination-providers/covid-19-vaccine-clinical-considerations

What happens after I am vaccinated
https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/getting-vaccinated-for-covid-19/what-happens-after-i-am-vaccinated-for-covid-19

Which vaccine will I receive
https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/getting-vaccinated-for-covid-19/which-covid-19-vaccine-will-i-receive

Please continue to refer to the Department of Health website for updated information.

Updated advice for New South Wales

The screening advice for residential aged care facilities and home care services in New South Wales was updated on 1 April 2021. This update is to clarify the exclusion of staff who have been in casual contact tracing locations in New South Wales or Queensland.

Staff should be excluded who:

Further information about the update is available on the NSW Health website.

Update on Brisbane outbreak

In response to the COVID-19 situation in Queensland, the Department of Health brought forward the scheduling of first dose visits to more than 100 residential aged care facilities in the greater Brisbane region.

This included vaccinations during the Easter period in over 20 aged care facilities. This activity will result in the vaccination of over 10,000 aged care residents in Queensland by 10 April 2021.

Thank you to all facilities who have been involved in preparing for these clinics.

Make up doses for people who miss a second dose

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are working directly with vaccine workforce providers and residential aged care facilities to implement local solutions to ensure access to people who missed out on their second Pfizer dose at a residential aged care facility.

If your facility is aware of people who have missed a second Pfizer dose, please forward these details to your local PHN, if you haven’t already.

A reminder that the Department of Health has updated its COVID-19 vaccine doses policy. The updated policy specifies that people should only be vaccinated if they expect to be at the facility to receive both doses. The policy also provides that first doses should not be administered at a second dose clinic.

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.

Organisational grief and bereavement support and advice for aged care providers

The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB) has been funded to provide grief and loss support for those living, working and caring in the aged care sector, who have been impacted by COVID-19.

You may know that they are available to provide support and advice to individuals including aged care recipients, their loved ones and aged care staff over the phone and in person by connecting with them via freecall number 1800 22 22 00. They have also been funded to provide support to organisations.

If you are an aged care provider, your residents, communities and staff may be grieving the loss of a loved one due to COVID-19, or they may be feeling loss due to what impact COVID-19 has had on their lifestyle: missing their visitors, routines or events that were important to them. ACGB can help your organisation plan your response to COVID-19. Aged care providers Australia wide can contact the ACGB for advice and support, anonymously if you prefer.

This support can include:

  • Advice on how to help individual residents, community members and staff
  • Planning for staff care and facility meetings
  • Community meetings
  • Memorialisation events
  • Requesting a visit to your facility for intensive support
  • Direction to appropriate resources
  • Referrals to counselling and support where required.

Reach out to the Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement from 9am-5pm AEST on 1800 22 22 00 or through their website: www.aged.grief.org.au.

Resources