Protecting Older Australians: COVID-19 Update

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Press Release: 7 May 2021

In this edition:


What’s New

Updated NSW advice for aged care providers

With local transmission of COVID-19 detected in NSW, for residential aged care facilities within the Greater Sydney area, including metropolitan Sydney, Nepean Blue Mountains, Central Coast and Wollongong:

  • all staff and visitors must wear a surgical mask
  • residents may have a maximum of two visitors each day and they can be different visitors each day
  • visits should take place outdoors where possible.

Visitors and staff must not enter the facility at all if they:

  • have been to any close or casual contact locations in NSW or Interstate places of high concern
  • have COVID-19 symptoms – fever (37. 5°C or higher) or symptoms of COVID-19
  • are a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 and are within their self-isolation period
  • live in a household with a person who is currently self-isolating
  • are waiting for a COVID-19 test result
  • (from 1 June to 30 September 2021) have not received a dose of the 2021 influenza vaccine.

Western Australia is currently considered an affected area, with a number of places of high concern.

NSW aged care providers can find out more information and are encouraged to stay up to date via the NSW Health website.

Further information and advice
Please visit the Australian Government Department of Health website for information and resources to assist in preparing and managing a COVID-19 outbreak, including what to do in the first 24 hours of an outbreak in a residential aged care facility.

Updated advice for ACT high-risk settings

The ACT Government has provided updated advice for high-risk settings. The Public Health (COVID-19 Areas of Concern) Notice 2021 has been updated and includes known exposure locations in NSW and WA and source investigation locations in NSW. This Notice is updated regularly as new exposure locations are identified.

The following locations are geographical areas of risk (see list of local government areas (LGA)):

  • All overseas countries (including New Zealand)
  • Perth and Peel regions in Western Australia (WA) (from 17 April 2021)
  • Greater Sydney LGAs (including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains) (from 26 April 2021)
  • Anyone who has been in a geographical area of risk should not visit or work in a high-risk setting for 14 days after leaving the affected area.

Under Public Health Directions in the ACT, quarantine is mandatory for:

  • People who have been overseas
  • People who are close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case.

For more information and to stay up to date, please regularly check the ACT Health website.

What to do if a person misses their second Pfizer dose

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are coordinating efforts for individuals who have missed their second Pfizer vaccine dose to access one through local solutions such as attending another aged care facility, referral to a Pfizer hub in limited circumstances, or a roving in-reach team re-visiting the facility.

Residential aged care facilities should contact their local PHN to report aged care residents and others that require a second dose of Pfizer vaccine and to work with the PHN to establish local solutions to ensure that those people that need a second dose of Pfizer can access one.

Individuals such as GPs, visitors, visiting workers, or others who have missed a second Pfizer dose and are unsure whether the residential aged care facility has reported them to the local PHN, should contact the aged care facility or local PHN directly to self-identify as requiring a second Pfizer dose, and be included in local solutions.

Individuals such as GPs, visitors, visiting workers, or others who have missed a second Pfizer dose and are unsure whether the residential aged care facility has reported them to the local PHN, should contact the aged care facility or local PHN directly to self-identify as requiring a second Pfizer dose, and be included in local solutions.

Advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommends that the interval between two doses of the Pfizer (Comirnaty) COVID-19 vaccine is at least 21 days. The minimum acceptable interval between the two doses is 19 days. It is recommended to complete the two-dose course within six weeks.

Individuals who have missed the six-week interval are still recommended to get a second Pfizer dose. A two-dose course is recommended for all individuals for optimal protection.

If a second dose of Pfizer vaccine is administered later than the recommended interval, a third dose of Pfizer vaccine does not need to be given.

Vaccinating residential aged care workers

On 27 April, the Department of Health emailed all residential aged care facilities an information pack on the vaccination pathways for workers in residential aged care including:

The fact sheet and poster will shortly be available in 20 languages.

The COVID-19 eligibility checker continues to be updated with information on where to get a vaccination:

  • people aged 50 years and over will receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and
  • people aged under 50 years will receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Sydney-based residential aged care workers aged under 50 can now access a COVID-19 Pfizer vaccination at two clinics located in Blacktown and Campbelltown, Sydney.

These clinics are dedicated to aged and disability care workers in the Sydney area. The Blacktown Pfizer clinic opened on Monday 3 May and the Campbelltown Pfizer clinic opens on Monday 10 May.

Information about how workers can book a vaccination has been provided to each Sydney-based aged care facility directly to share with their workforce.

Facilities will be advised as further clinics become available in other parts of Australia.

Vaccinating in-home and community aged care recipients and workers

Workers and recipients of in-home and community aged care can learn more about their options for COVID-19 vaccination via the in-home aged care COVID-19 vaccine fact sheet.

The Department of Health has also produced an easy guide to vaccination pathways for workers and recipients in in-home and community aged care.

The COVID-19 eligibility checker continues to be updated with information on where to get a vaccination:

  • people aged 50 years and over will receive the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, and
  • people aged under 50 years will receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

OPAN COVID-19 vaccination webinar replay

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) hosted their third COVID-19 vaccine webinar on Monday 3 May to discuss the vaccine rollout to older Australians, aged care residents and the aged care workforce.

You can watch a replay of the webinar online.

Asymptomatic testing in Victorian RACFs

Please note that the Victorian Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) Directions have been amended and the worker asymptomatic (surveillance) testing for residential aged care facilities requirement is now recommended, not mandatory.

This means that it is no longer mandatory for Victorian facilities to facilitate asymptomatic testing, nor are there specific targets on the frequency of testing.

Asymptomatic testing of the RACF workforce in Victoria will continue to be requested to assist the management of emerging risks (such as if there is a significant waste water detection or localised community transmission).

You can view the current surveillance testing requirements.

In Victoria, Melbourne Pathology is continuing to provide a dedicated pathology services for rapid sample collection and testing for COVID-19 in RACFs in symptomatic cases.

RACFs can contact Melbourne Pathology for assistance by using the RACF Melbourne Pathology Hotline on 1800 570 573 (8am – 6pm).

Resources

Updated Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Directive | Aged Care Weekly

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