Immunisation and Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Now more than ever it is important that the community are protected against communicable diseases. This will also help with reducing pressure off the health system. With the influenza season fast approaching, and the availability of the 2020 influenza vaccines, now is a good time for providers to plan how they will deliver vaccination services.
Visit SEMPHN's Coronavirus (COVID-19) page to read more about the latest Coronavirus information.
Visit SEMPHN’s Immunisation page to read more about Influenza.
Immunisation update webinar recording
On 7 April 2020, SEMPHN hosted a virtual immunisation update for health professionals on Zoom. This webinar was led by Dr Peter Eizenberg.
Topics discussed in Part One:
- how COVID-19 may affect the flu season in 2020
- an overview of the 2020 seasonal influenza program
- adult pneumococcal vaccines, and
- maintaining a cool cold chain.
Topics discussed in Part Two:
- NIP Schedule
- AusVaxSafety reporting via SmartVax
- Immunisation resources and tools
DHHS recommendations for influenza vaccination
To ensure compliance with physical distancing measures, DHHS has recommended that systems are implemented to regulate the number of people entering your practice or immunisation venue.
Please note: Vaccines should not be administered to people sitting in vehicles. Clients must not wait in their vehicle post-vaccination in the event of an immediate adverse event following vaccination.
The regular influenza season may coincide with the peak of the current COVID-19 pandemic, potentially placing an additional burden on the Australian health system.
The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has provided recommendations for influenza vaccination below.
- Influenza vaccine distribution to immunisation providers has commenced (1 April 2020). Adjuvanted influenza vaccines for people aged 65 years and over have been delivered.
- From 1 May 2020, the flu vaccine will be mandatory for people wanting to visit an aged care facility (including aged care workers).
- Claims that influenza vaccination may increase the risk of coronavirus infection have been circulating on social media. There is no convincing evidence to support these claims.
- Patients should receive their annual vaccine anytime from mid-April onwards to be protected during the peak of the flu season.
Status of delivery and vaccine availability
- View vaccine availability for the 2020 influenza season here.
Guiding Principles for maintaining immunisation services during COVID-19
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have released Guiding Principles for maintaining immunisation services during COVID-19.
The Guiding Principles are there to support immunisation providers to adapt their procedures and practice to comply with measures in place, including physical distancing, to reduce the transmission of COVID-19. This is to ensure that immunisation services can continue to be conducted safely without exposing healthcare workers, vaccines, their caregivers and the wider community to undue risk.
Download the Guiding Principles.
Service delivery tips
Some tips could apply to both routine childhood and influenza immunisation, and may be appropriate for your service:
- Review and/or update the practice influenza/pandemic plan
- Ensure flu vaccination is on the team meeting agenda
- Opportunistic vaccination:
- Review your patient list and administer the vaccination during the GP consult. If administered by the nurse prior to the planned GP consult, the patient will be present in the surgery for the duration of the post vaccination 15-minute waiting time.
- Enhance hygiene practices for staff and patients. Washing hands frequently is the single most effective way to reduce the spread of germs that cause respiratory disease. Alcohol-based hand gel is a suitable alternative if used and stored safely around children. Display prominently signage regarding hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and social distancing.
- Vaccination clinics:
- Run your clinic by appointment only, to manage patient flow and promote social distancing
- When booking in patients to the clinic/appointment, check that they have not been overseas in the last 14 days and/or have any symptoms
- Send SMS reminders to patients that advises them to reschedule their appointment if they are unwell
- Ensure vaccination clinics maintain social distancing- e.g. place chairs 1.5 metres apart in the treatment room and within the waiting room. If this is not possible, consider asking patients to wait in their car until their appointment time, or when called by reception. Ask patients where able to bring only one parent/guardian for childhood immunisation appointments.
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South Eastern Melbourne PHN acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land our catchment covers, the Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri people. We pay respect to them, their culture and their Elders past, present and future, and uphold their relationship to this land.
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