Information for disability service providers about COVID-19 vaccines

Information and resources for disability service providers regarding COVID-19 vaccinations.

COVID-19 vaccination services

There are a number of services available to providers to help people with disability get their vaccinations.

Appointments for a COVID-19 vaccination can be booked using the health Service Finder. It includes new information about which clinics are accessible for people with disability, including quiet spaces and wheelchair access.

For help booking a COVID-19 vaccination appointment, call the Disability Gateway on 1800 643 787. The Disability Gateway is available Monday to Friday, 8am to 8pm (Australian Eastern Standard Time).

GPs and community pharmacies also offer vaccination services.

If you are unsure of where to find local vaccination providers your local Primary Health Network can help you. They will connect you to available local GPs, pharmacies or other vaccine providers that deliver COVID-19 vaccinations.

Commonwealth in-reach also remains available to residential disability settings and to other home-bound people (more information on this is below).

COVID-19 booster doses

People with disability living in shared residential accommodation settings who haven’t had a COVID-19 vaccine or confirmed infection in the last 6 months are eligible for a booster dose.

Booster doses are available through Commonwealth vaccination providers, either through in-reach or through other channels such as a GP, pharmacy, or state or territory vaccination clinic.

The COVID-19 boosters: Disability Service Provider update flyer includes a summary about booster vaccinations and how to help people with disability book a vaccination appointment.

If you have an enquiry, contact the COVID-19 vaccine disability team.

Learn more about booster doses for COVID-19

Commonwealth vaccination providers will also continue to give direct in-reach support where required.

Third doses and boosters

It is also important to know that a booster vaccination is different to a third dose. ATAGI has recommended only people who are severely immunocompromised should receive a third dose as part of their primary course.

If you have residents or workers who have been assessed by a GP as requiring a third primary course dose because they are severely immunocompromised, these people should receive a third dose as soon as possible.

For those who have received three primary doses, it is also recommended to have a booster dose in line with the timing for the general population. The interval is 6 months after their primary course (or any infection).

COVID-19 booster doses can be administered at the same time as the annual flu vaccination. Co-administration of COVID-19 vaccines and influenza vaccines for residents is both clinically safe and administratively efficient. 

5:40

[Music, and slide with text: Supporting people with disability to access COVID-19 vaccination. An interview with NDIS provider Achieve Australia.]

RICKY KREMER: My name is Ricky Kremer. I work for the Council of Intellectual Disability. 

I'm here with Jo-Anne Hewitt. Jo-Anne Hewitt is the CEO for Achieve Australia. We're going to talk about COVID-19 vaccination and how Achieve has supported clients with disability to get vaccinated. Why is it important that providers continue to support COVID-19 vaccination for their clients with disability? 

JO-ANNE HEWITT: Well, Ricky, that's a great question because at the moment, you know, we know that COVID-19 is much more prevalent in the community and at the same time many of the mandated restrictions have now been lifted. But it's actually more important than ever to ensure that people with disability and people around them are up to date with their vaccinations. We know that people with disability are more vulnerable to underlying conditions and so therefore more vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. And so keeping people up to date, ensuring that people are up to date, ensuring that their supporters, family members, staff are up to date with their vaccines – really important to keep people safe and well. But also to avoid people having to continue to lock down and stay socially isolated. 

[Slide with text: Strategies to help people access vaccination]

RICKY KREMER: How has Achieve helped clients with disability to be vaccinated? 

JO-ANNE HEWITT: One of the key ways is to actually make sure that people have the right information. So to keep them up to date with the vaccines that are available and where, keep them up to date with things like what the efficacy and side effects of vaccines are, make sure that they have access to vaccines via helping them to actually get there. So in the early days of the vaccine availability, we set up some accessible clinics and actually helped people to get to those clinics. They were provided with transport. We made sure that we also had mobile clinics so that people who couldn't go out for some reason were able to get their vaccination at home. And we opened those clinics up to families, to friends, and to staff members so that everyone around the person had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated. 

[Slide with text: The right to choose]

RICKY KREMER: So people have the right to choose whether they want to get vaccinated. How did you balance promoting vaccination with the need to respect decisions made by clients? 

JO-ANNE HEWITT: Absolutely, people have the right to make their own decisions about things that impact them and in particular things that impact their health and well-being. So what we did was make sure that people had the right information to make a really good informed choice and made sure that that information was in a range of formats that were accessible to people with disability. We also made sure that the people around them had that information as well. So I think it was really ensuring that we were persistent in the message to people about the importance of vaccines. With our staff, they too had the right to choose because they have the right to choose what happens to their own health and their own bodies. But you know, most people actually decided to get the vaccine and I know now that the majority of our clients and all of our staff are vaccinated. 

[Slide with text: Supporting people in different settings]

RICKY KREMER: Was your approach different for clients living in supported accommodation compared to those clients in private accommodation? 

JO-ANNE HEWITT: Not really. In some ways, it was easier to support people in supported accommodation because our staff are there and working with them on a day-to-day basis. So it was easy to get the information out and easier also to get them to the right place or to bring the vaccine to them. But we made sure that everyone that we support had that access to either the information or the vaccine, whether or not they were in our supported accommodation or not. 

[Slide with text: Vaccination is more than just a health issue]

RICKY KREMER: So are there any other messages you would share with other providers who are trying to promote and support vaccination for people with disability? 

JO-ANNE HEWITT: Ricky, I think one of the key things that I've certainly been promoting in my organisation and to the people that I support and their staff is that this is not just a health issue but it's also an issue about people's exclusion and isolation from the community. The more people feel fearful or they're vulnerable to waves of COVID, the less they can go out and do the things they want to do, go to work, enjoy their access to the community, be with their friends, be with their family. So really, this is a social justice issue as much as it's a health issue. I think that message needs to be front and centre in everything we do, that it really is about the rights of people with disability to be safe, well, and to be part of their community. 

RICKY KREMER: Absolutely. 

[Music, and slide with text: Thank you to Achieve Australia and the Council for Intellectual Disability. Further resources can be found on the Department of Health and Aged Care website]

In-reach services

On 12 December 2022, the Australian Government launched the National COVID-19 Health Management Plan. The National Plan recognises that health response measures are still required to protect those most at risk from COVID-19.

Throughout 2023, COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be principally administered by primary care providers, such as general practitioners and pharmacists. On 1 February 2023, the Government streamlined and increased the incentive payments for doctors, nurses within general practice and pharmacists to provide COVID-19 vaccinations off-site from their usual premises, including in-reach vaccinations in residential aged care and disability supported living accommodation.

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) will continue to receive funding under the Vulnerable Vaccination Program to develop and implement innovative, short-term COVID-19 vaccination activities.  PHNs will tailor these activities to the needs of priority populations in their regions, including disability accommodation settings. This will allow PHNs to partner with primary care vaccination providers, local organisations and service providers to protect those most at risk from COVID-19.

For more information, see the National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023.  

If you have any questions, please email DisabilityCovidVaccineDelivery@Health.gov.au.

Consent

When arranging vaccinations, it is important that appropriate consent is obtained for your clients.

We have produced some resources to help with this:

Disability provider alerts

Our disability provider alerts keep the sector up to date with changes to the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

You can circulate the alerts to your workforce to keep them informed about the latest changes. 

Email us to subscribe.

Disability sector vaccination statistics

Our COVID-19 vaccination rollout updates contain the latest statistics on the vaccination rate of people with disability and the disability workforce.

Date last updated:

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