Update: Further information about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

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Press Release: 26 February 2021

Thank you for continuing to stay up to date with the latest information via this newsletter.

This edition includes further information about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine including information on triaging and directing enquiries and guidance around staff eligibility. There is also information about resources including guidance for monitoring for side effects of COVID-19 vaccine, a COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for frail older people published by the and translated information for residents and workers. There is a link to the OPAN COVID-19 webinar replay.

This edition also includes the latest health directions for aged care providers in both New South Wales and Queensland, as well as a good practice guide designed by the Victorian Aged Care Response Centre to provide direction on creating and reviewing an Outbreak Management Plan (OMP).

A collection of easy read resources about the COVID-19 vaccine, published on the Department of Health’s website, are also available in this edition of the newsletter.

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.

Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support should contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.

In this edition:

What’s New

Update on the COVID-19 Vaccine rollout in residential aged care facilities

Thank you to all residential aged care facilities (RACFs) for your extensive preparation and cooperation in participating at the start of the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccination program. The vaccines that have been safely distributed to our priority aged care residents have been well received and they are excited to be participating at this early stage of the rollout.

The roll out is a highly complex logistical operation, both for the storage and handling of the temperature sensitive vaccines, availability of a skilled workforce and sensitive management of the needs of aged care residents and workers. We are continually reviewing processes to ensure efficient and safe practises are upheld, particularly for our most vulnerable.

Some facilities have needed to be rescheduled this week to accommodate vaccine delivery windows, workforce availability, consent arrangements at the RACF and cold chain management. For those sites affected by changes at short notice, we understand the impost this has had on your staff and residents. The Department and the Vaccine Operations Centre is working closely with RACFs and the Primary Health Networks to manage rollout scheduling and to ensure information is being effectively communicated with as much notice as possible.

Who to contact
All RACFs should contact your local Primary Health Network for all enquiries and issues relating to vaccination at your site. The exception is if your RACF has already been contacted by the vaccine workforce provider, ASPEN or HealthCare Australia (HCA), for a scheduled vaccination day within the next fortnight. In this instance please contact your ASPEN or HealthCare Australia contact.

Update on Queensland Clinical Incident
On 23 February 2021, two residents at a residential aged care facility in Queensland were given more than the prescribed dose of the Pfizer vaccine. Both patients are being closely monitored by clinical teams in hospital and will continue to be observed as a precaution.

After investigation, HCA advised the Department that the vaccine administrator (doctor) had not completed the mandatory training prior. This event is an important reminder that all healthcare workers who are planning to administer the vaccine must undertake the free online training.

Reporting of clinical Incidents
Residential aged care facilities are requested to report any clinical incidents immediately to the Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC). The VOC can be contacted 7 days on 1800 318 208 during the hours of 7am-10pm AEDT.

Number of Doses
The number of doses to be allocated for each RACF have been based on best estimates. In the event that there are insufficient doses for the number of residents who wish to be vaccinated, the vaccination workforce provider and the additional required vaccines will be provided to the RACF to ensure all residents who wish to be vaccinated can be.

Triaging and Directing Enquiries
document maps how enquiries will be triaged at different points of site scheduling. The document provides contact points, including numbers for queries in relation to vaccinations days as well as the primary contact nominated for each PHN. Additionally, state and territory manager contacts for our jurisdictional officers are also included for easy referencing.

Taking Receipt of Vaccines
There have been a small number of instances where a RACF staff member has taken receipt of COVID vaccines, in the absence of a workforce provider (either HCA or Aspen).

The workforce provider has a legal obligation to take receipt of the vaccine as they are responsible for maintaining cold-chain integrity of the vaccines. RACFs should not accept vaccines.

Any COVID vaccine deliveries to a RACF where the vaccine team is not present should be reported immediately to Vaccine Operations Centre, and the box should be stored securely unopened.

Aged Care Staff Eligibility Factsheet
An aged care staff eligibility factsheet provides guidance of who should be considered ‘staff’ for the purposes of phase 1a of the COVID-19 vaccination program.

Guidance for monitoring side effects of COVID-19 vaccines

Guidance is available for aged care facilities on monitoring patients after administration of COVID-19 vaccines. Information includes:

  • COVID-19 vaccine side effects symptom checker
  • How to report side effects / when to contact a healthcare professional
  • Common adverse events.

View the information sheet online.

COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for frail older people, including those in residential aged care

The Department of Health has published a decision guide to help people who are frail or very old, including those living in residential aged care facilities and their representatives, make an informed decision about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

The guide includes information about the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, risks for older people, and current known side effects. Please share this information with RACFs, families, carers and substitute decision-makers.

Translated information for aged care residents and workers

Translations of COVID-19 vaccine information for the aged care sector is available online in 64 languages via the links below.

We encourage you to pass on the following translated information to your residents and contacts. Translations include:

OPAN COVID-19 vaccine webinar replay

The Older Persons Advocacy Network (OPAN) hosted their second COVID-19 vaccine webinar on Tuesday 23 February to discuss the consent process for the COVID-19 vaccination and how to facilitate supported decision making in the aged care setting. Watch the replay online.

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.

NSW updated advice for aged care providers and visitors

The screening advice for residential aged and home care services has been updated on 25 February. Providers are encouraged to read the full advice which is available on the following web pages:

The major changes for aged care facilities in NSW are:

  • Staff and visitors are not required to wear a surgical mask.
  • There are no restrictions on the number of visitors a resident can have each day or at any time.
  • There are no longer any restrictions on people who have travelled from Victoria.
  • There are new restrictions for people who have been in Auckland in the past 14 days.

Aged Care Providers are reminded to stay up to date with advice and Directions on NSW Health’s website and to check for these updates regularly.

Queensland update advice for aged care providers and visitors

In Queensland, Aged Care Direction no.24 came into effect on 20 February. Providers are encouraged to read the full direction, which can be found here.

The major changes for aged care providers in Queensland are:

  • The previously listed 31 Greater Melbourne Local Government Areas of concern have been removed. You may now enter residential aged care facilities if you have been in one of these areas between 29 January 2021 and 6 February 2021 and meet all other visitor requirements.
  • You cannot enter a residential aged care facility if you have been in a hotspot in the last 14 days or since the hotspot was declared (whichever is shorter).

Victorian RACFs: Outbreak management plan – good practice guide

Preparation is essential in ensuring staff and management effectively identify, respond to, and manage a potential COVID-19 outbreak in a residential aged care facility.

The Victorian Aged Care Response Centre (VACRC), using feedback and information from aged care facilities and stakeholders, has produced a good practice guide.

The guide provides direction on creating and reviewing an Outbreak Management Plan (OMP) tailored to individual facility requirements, including triggers for activation and escalation.

Resources

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

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