Immunisation weekly update - 26 May 2021

26 May 2021

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Updated storage conditions for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine

On Monday 24 May 2021, the TGA approved an application from Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd to change its current storage conditions for its COVID-19 vaccine.

The approved storage period of the unopened thawed vial at 2-8°C (after taking out of deep-freeze conditions) has been extended from five days up to one month (31 days).

Changes to storage conditions are included in the Product Information for COMIRNATY.

Further details available on the TGA website.

Influenza (flu) immunisation data

As at 23 May 2021, there has been around 5.4 million doses of influenza (flu) vaccines reported to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

See infographic which shows the number of flu vaccinations by patient age and immunisation provider type reported to the AIR during the 2021 flu season.

The Department of Health have also developed information brochures in a range of different languages for the 2021 influenza vaccine season.

Overcoming vaccine hesitancy

GPs and practice nurses are ideally placed to answer specific questions about people’s personal health and vaccine eligibility. A recommendation to vaccinate from a health-care professional is particularly powerful.

Reassure patients about AstraZeneca vaccine

The risk of TTS is not likely to be increased in people with the below conditions, as outlined in the ATAGI statement: Joint statement from ATAGI and THANZ on Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) and the use of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca.

People with the following conditions can receive COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca:

  • History of blood clots in typical sites
  • Increased clotting tendency that is not immune mediated
  • Family history of blood clots
  • History of ischaemic heart disease or stroke
  • Current or past thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
  • Those receiving anticoagulation therapy

Benefits of vaccination

  • Vaccination against COVID-19 remains the best way to prevent severe illness and death from COVID-19.
  • The benefits of vaccination are many and include protection against severe illness and death from COVID-19 for the individual, as well as indirect benefits for the community.
  • The risk of potential outbreaks of COVID-19 is ever-present. The Australian population remains largely unimmunised and susceptible to COVID-19 risks.

See also Letter from the Chief Medical Officer to healthcare professionals.

Non-Medicare patients: Getting a COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia regardless of Medicare or visa status.

If a patient doesn’t have a Medicare card, or is not eligible, refer them to get their free COVID-19 vaccination at a GP Respiratory Clinic (currently only stock AstraZeneca) or NSW state vaccination clinic (stock both Pfizer & AstraZeneca).

Please use the Vaccine Eligibility Checker to find state vaccination clinics.

ATAGI 2021 annual statement

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) 2021 annual statement on immunisation covers key successes, trends and challenges in the use of vaccines and control of vaccine-preventable diseases in 2020. It also signals ATAGI’s priority actions for addressing key issues for 2021 and beyond.

See ATAGI Annual Statement on Immunisation 2021

COVID-19 live stream update for GPs

Join the latest COVID-19 vaccine live stream update for GPs.

The panel will provide latest key updates and answer participants’ questions live about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.  

Details:  Thursday 27 May, 11:30am-12:30pm (AEDT) | Click link to join

Get involved by submitting questions and comments!

Catch up on previous webinars 

New resources

Talking to patients about AstraZeneca vaccine (24 May)

A resource for health professionals to help them talk to patients about the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Provider Communication Kit for GPRC and General Practices (23 May)

This collection contains a suite of communication tools for General Practice-Led Respiratory Clinics (GPRC) and General Practices administering COVID-19 vaccinations.

How in-home and community aged care recipients and workers can get a COVID-19 vaccination (21 May)

Information and frequently asked questions about COVID-19 vaccine options for in-home aged care recipients and workers.

COVID-19 vaccines: common questions (20 May)

This fact sheet provides accurate, evidence-based answers to common questions about COVID-19 vaccines. It also answers questions for multicultural communities.

COVID-19 vaccination – Updated AstraZeneca Information (20 May)

This fact sheet provides information about a link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a very rare condition, which involves blood clotting and low blood platelet levels.

COVID-19 vaccination – How to make your own video guide (20 May)

A guide containing key points for filming a video about COVID-19 vaccines to share with your culturally and linguistically diverse community.