Protecting Older Australians – COVID-19 Update

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Press Release: 21 May 2021

In this edition


What’s New

COVID-19 vaccine aged care roll-out update

As at 21 May 2021, over 320,075 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in 2,558 residential aged care and disability accommodation facilities. This includes 1,708 second dose clinics.

More options to access a COVID-19 vaccination

From 17 May 2021, all people aged 50 years and over are eligible to get an AstraZeneca vaccination from one of the 4,300 participating GP clinics across the country.

This is in addition to Commonwealth vaccination clinics (GP respiratory clinics), Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Service and state and territory COVID-19 vaccination clinics (coming on line progressively) which have offered vaccinations to people 50 years and over from 3 May 2021.

You can find a participating GP or clinic through the eligibility checker on the Department of Health website.

If you can’t find details for nearby clinics please check regularly as the listings will be updated as more clinics become available.

While Australia has been relatively successful in avoiding sustained COVID-19 outbreaks, the risk of community transmission remains significant.

COVID-19 is much more likely to be severe in older people and people with certain medical problems than in young healthy people.

The most effective way for eligible people over the age of 50 to protect themselves from the effects of COVID-19 is to be vaccinated.

A conversation with Alison McMillan and Annie Butler

A new video resource is available for all residential aged care workers featuring the Commonwealth Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Alison McMillan and the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation’s Federal Secretary Annie Butler.

The video message highlights the importance of COVID-19 vaccination for residential aged care and disability care workers.

As registered nurses, both Alison and Annie have a unique understanding of the role of aged and disability care workers in caring for vulnerable people in our community.

In their conversation, they explain what the COVID-19 vaccination program means for aged and disability care workers, and how workers can access a vaccine now.

In their conversation, they explain what the COVID-19 vaccination program means for aged and disability care workers, and how workers can access a vaccine now.

We encourage residential aged care providers to share the video, COVID-19 vaccine rollout to aged care and disability care workers in Australia – YouTube, with their workforce.

Vaccinating residents who were absent at their facility’s in-reach vaccination clinics

There may be instances where existing or new residents did not receive a COVID-19 vaccination through the Commonwealth’s in-reach Pfizer vaccine clinics. This could be due to:

  • being unwell or absent for the first dose clinic
  • not giving consent to receive a vaccine at the first dose clinic, or
  • having moved into the facility after the first or second dose clinic.

Residents needing two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine can receive an AstraZeneca vaccine through a:

  • general practice
  • visiting GP
  • Commonwealth vaccination clinic (GP respiratory clinic), or
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Service.

As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout progresses, advice will be given if other options for vaccination become available.

What to do if a person misses their second Pfizer dose

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) are coordinating local solutions for individuals who missed their second Pfizer dose at a second dose in-reach clinic at a residential aged care facility. Options may include attending another aged care facility, referral to a Pfizer hub 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 missed their second Pfizer dose at a second dose in-reach and to work with the PHN to establish local solutions to ensure that those people can access a second dose of Pfizer.

RFT extended for facilities wishing to vaccinate workers

An addendum has been issued to the Request for Tender (RFT) for Provision of COVID-19 Vaccination Administration by Residential Aged Care Providers, which extends the closing date to 30 June 2021.

If your facility is interested in making a submission to vaccinate your workers please review the RFT documentation which is available on the AusTender website.

The RFT opened on 17 March 2021, recognising the known capability and capacity within many residential aged care facilities to conduct safe and efficient vaccination programs.

On 27 April 2021, an addendum to the RFT was released following the release of Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation advice to enable providers to vaccinate using both the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Pfizer vaccine. The RFT was also simplified in response to feedback from providers and to ensure that the process is as efficient as possible.

Questions or concerns about COVID-19 vaccines?

With new COVID-19 vaccine developments every day, it’s normal to have questions and concerns, and possibly feel hesitant about getting a vaccine.

The Department of Health website is providing accurate, evidence-based answers to questions about COVID-19 vaccines on the website at COVID-19 – Is it true?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell misunderstandings or false information apart from facts.

The information at COVID-19 – Is it true? can help people make informed decisions – and get information from a trusted source.

Answers to common questions on COVID-19 vaccines are available in 63 languages.

Updated advice for Australian Capital Territory residential aged care facilities

On 19 May 2021, the ACT Chief Health Officer updated ACT COVID-19 advice. Key updates include:

  • Greater Sydney LGAs, including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains, are no longer considered geographical areas of risk in Australia.
  • The geographical areas of risk still includes Greater Melbourne LGAs (from 5 May 2021). Wyndham, Yarra and Yarra Ranges have also been added to the list as they were unintentionally omitted from the previous two iterations of advice.

Visitors are restricted from entering an aged care facility if they have been in a geographical area of risk in the last 14 days. ACT aged care providers can find out more information on the ACT Government website.

Updated advice for NSW residential aged and home care services

The screening advice for residential aged and home care services in NSW has been updated for 20 May 2021. The key message for this update is:

NSW aged care providers can find out more information on the following webpages:

As the COVID-19 situation can change quickly, NSW aged care providers are reminded to stay up to date via the NSW Health website.

Resources

Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce, particularly your communications teams and encourage them to subscribe for future updates. You can view past editions of the Protecting Older Australians Newsletter.

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