COVID-19 vaccine information for GPs


For the latest updates on COVID-19 visit the Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for GPs webpage

You can find all RACGP developed COVID-19 resources in a central location on the RACGP website.

COVID-19 Vaccine advice 2024

Updated advice for COVID-19 vaccinations as of 15 March 2024 include: 
 
  • new recommendations for further doses of COVID-19 vaccine every 6 months for adults aged ≥75 years, every 12 months and consider every 6 months for adults aged 65–74 years, and consider every 12 months for adults aged 18–64 years; people aged ≥6 months with severe immunocompromise are recommended further doses every 12 months and can consider a dose every 6 months
  • new recommendations for 1 primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine for adults aged ≥18 years; 2 primary doses with consideration of a 3rd for people aged >6 months with severe immunocompromise; a single primary dose can be considered for children aged 5 to <18 years with other medical conditions that may increase the risk of severe COVID-19
  • a table of severely immunocompromising conditions and treatments
  • a simplified table of other conditions for which COVID-19 vaccines can be considered.
See the Australian Immunisation Handbook website for all current advice. 
 

COVID-19 Vaccination Training Program ending as of 1 October 2023

From 1 October 2023, the Department of Health and Aged Care will no longer be producing new COVID-19 Vaccine Training Modules and the COVID-19 Vaccination Training Program (CVTP) will come to a close. CVTP training will no longer be mandatory for participation in the COVID-19 Vaccine Program.
 
COVID-19 reference resources, such as the COVID-19 Vaccines in Australia and ATAGI Recommended COVID-19 Vaccines Doses posters, will continue to be updated and available. For continued access to learning resources for COVID-19 vaccines, visit COVID-19 vaccination training program | Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care
 
All primary care sites participating in the COVID-19 Vaccine Program must continue to either:
 
  • hold a valid accreditation (or be undergoing accreditation) through the National General Practice Accreditation Scheme, or
  • administer vaccines as part of the National Immunisation Program (NIP).
 
Further information will be communicated to all CVTP learners and participating primary care sites.
 
Should you have any clinical questions regarding COVID-19 vaccine administrations, the Vaccine Operations Centre will remain available on 1800 318 208 or at COVID19VaccineOperationsCentre@Health.gov.au


Changes to Vaccine Operations Centre contact and reporting cold chain breaches - 27 June 2023

You can still contact Vaccine Operations Centre via their website

Please note: If you need to report a cold chain breach (CCB), use the CCB reporting form found on the ‘Get Help’ page of your CVAS account or, alternatively, click here to download a CCB reporting form from the Department of Health and Aged Care’s website. Please email your completed CCB reporting form to COVID19VaccineOperationsCentre@Health.gov.au and it will be actioned as a priority the next business day. 
 

 

Department of Health (DoH):

From these pages you can access suites of resources to support you and your practice in delivering COVID-19 vaccinations.


Australian Immunisation Register (AIR):


The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI):


Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC)​ resources

 

Thrombosis and Haemostasis Society of Australia and New Zealand (THANZ):

 

Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre:


Consumer Health Forum:


Also see the 'Where can I find the latest patient resources?' section of this website for resources written for consumers, including decision support guides. 


Transfer of COVID-19 vaccines between participating primary care vaccination sites

The Department of Health has released guidance on the transfer of COVID-19 vaccines between sites. The guidance addresses:

  • who can receive transferred vaccines
  • whether approval must be sought to transfer
  • how to record a transfer
  • how the vaccines should be transported
  • what to do with vaccines if you are no longer participating in the vaccine program
  • how to manage expired vaccines
Access the guidance


Australian Immunisation Register patient reports for practices

Practices can now extract updated reports from the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR), giving greater visibility of patients' vaccination status, and therefore improving the follow-up process.

You can now download a report by practice (rather than by practitioner) showing patients who have yet to receive any doses of COVID-19 vaccines or who are now eligible, due or overdue for a booster dose.
 

Australian Immunisation Register reporting for children aged 5–11 years

Reporting a Pfizer vaccination for children aged 5–11 years in the Australian Immunisation Register is the same as for all other age cohorts.

When completing the report, use the vaccine code COMIRN.

Make sure to use the latest version of your clinical software to make sure it meets reporting requirements.

 

Changes to Medicare Benefit Schedule from 1 February 2023

From 1 February 2023, COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessment and associated MBS item number structures have been streamlined. 

See the MBS Online website for information on these changes. 

 

Educational resources for providers administering COVID-19 vaccines on MBS billing

Services Australia has published tailored infographics to support providers billing MBS COVID-19 vaccine suitability assessment items. 

The infographics clarify billing requirements for: 


A list of vaccine suitability assessment items for use by GPs and other medical practitioners can be viewed here


For more information on changes for health professionals during the COVID-19 response, visit the Coronavirus information for health professionals page. 

Patient resources:

Patients can access information on COVID-19 vaccines and the vaccine roll-out via the Department of Health (DoH) COVID-19 vaccine website. This is website is updated regularly as new information becomes available.

The DoH has developed resources that you can share with your patients. These are available from the DoH website and include:


Easy Read resources:

A series of fact sheets are available in Easy Read format.
 

Translated resources:

A series of resources are available in Auslan and in 63 community languages


New patient resource: How can I get proof of my COVID-19 vaccinations?

Most Australian residents will be able to get proof of vaccination against COVID-19 themselves, without assistance from their GP or practice staff. However, time-poor practices have recently seen an influx of patients requesting their assistance.

In response, the RACGP has developed ‘How can I get proof of my COVID-19 vaccinations?’, a printable patient information sheet explaining how proof of vaccination can be acquired, depending on the patient’s situation.

The information sheet contains guidance for those who:

  • have a Medicare online account
  • have a Medicare card number, but not a Medicare online account
  • are not eligible for Medicare
  • do not have access to the internet or a smartphone
  • are seeking proof of vaccination on behalf of their child.

Access the information sheet 

 


Supporting COVID-19 vaccination uptake in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 12 and over eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine and are an identified priority population.  

To ensure Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and their families are safe when lockdowns ends, increasing vaccination rates in these communities is critical. 

You can help increase vaccination rates among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by: 

  • ensuring your practice provides an opportunity for patients to identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and have their response recorded in your clinical information systems 

  • running a search of your practice records for all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and checking their vaccination status via the Australian Immunisation Register or My Health Record 

  • contacting all eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients and offering priority vaccination to ensure they are safe when lockdown ends 

  • If they say yes, book them in (if your practice is vaccinating) or let them know local vaccination centres and how to book 

  • If they say no, invite them in to discuss the vaccine. 

  • offering vaccination when patients attend for other reasons. 


The DoH has developed new materials to support you in communicating COVID-19 vaccine information with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients, including: 

  • talking points to assist you in having conversations about COVID-19 vaccines  
  • guidance on TGA advertising restrictions, explaining how you can inform your patients about what vaccines are available in your clinic via social mediaposters and your practice website 
  • video animation explaining what to expect on the day of vaccination, possible side effects and the need for two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine 
  • videos with Indigenous community leaders and testimonials by real people 

You can find these and other resources on the DoH website.  

An opinion piece authored by Professor Kidd “What to do if you, or a family member, tests positive for COVID-19” has been translated into five Indigenous languages and is now available on the DoH website.

 

You can support the cultural safety of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients by:  

  • ensuring your practice is welcoming and inclusive (see Step 1: Providing effective, culturally safe healthcare on the NACCHO/RACGP Resource Hub for advice) 
  • encouraging all practice staff to do cultural awareness training (offered free of charge to RACGP members and for a nominal fee for other practice staff via gplearning).     

 

Other resources include:

Vaccine information for culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities 

The Department of Health COVID-19 vaccine website has information available in 63 languages. To access information in a language other than English, select ‘Information in your language’ within the blue header.

The DoH has published an updated stakeholder pack to support you to communicate and share COVID-19 vaccine information with culturally and linguistically diverse communities. Topics covered in the pack include: 

  • COVID-19 health and safety tips
  • rapid antigen tests (RATs)
  • testing positive for COVID-19
  • oral treatments for COVID-19.
The pack includes links to access translated videos, audio files, social media tiles and posters.
 

In-language COVID-19 vaccine information kits have been developed and include resources with key information on COVID-19 vaccines, including:

  • updates to the vaccine rollout
  • booster doses and third doses for immunocompromised people
  • information on pregnancy and COVID-19 vaccines
  • videos featuring community members explaining the importance of getting vaccinated
  • videos featuring doctors answering questions about COVID-19 vaccines.
These kits are available in Arabic, Assyrian, ChaldeanSimplified Chinese and Dinka
 

National Coronavirus Helpline: In-language assistance

Culturally and linguistically diverse patients can now access in-language information on COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccination and book a vaccination appointment through the National Coronavirus Helpline.

The service is supported by Translating and Interpreting Services (TIS) National, whose interpreters speak 150 languages. In-language resources can be sent to callers after the call.

To access this service, people can call the National Coronavirus Helpline on 1800 020 080 and select option 8 for interpreter services. 


Booking onsite interpreters

You can book onsite interpreters on weekends for COVID-19 vaccination purposes by emailing tis.freeinterpreting@homeaffairs.gov.au.
 

Vaccine access for Medicare-ineligible patients

If patients are not eligible for Medicare, providers can still supply COVID vaccines to these patients, but cannot bill for this service (Medicare or otherwise). 

Medicare ineligible people can receive the vaccine from any Commonwealth Vaccination Clinic or a state/territory vaccination hub.

 

Recording vaccination details in the Australian Immunisation Register for Medicare-ineligible patients

The Victorian Refugee Health Network, together with EACH, has developed a step-by-step guide to help you manually upload vaccine details to the Australian Immunisation Register for patients who are not eligible for Medicare.

Doing this will enable Medicare-ineligible people to access their proof-of-vaccination certificate.

Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations

State and territory Public Health Orders are in place mandating COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers, some of which include and some of which exclude GPs. Please check the local requirements in your area:

If team members are affected by these orders and refuse to be vaccinated, they are not legally allowed to work at the premise and may be terminated. Each public health order outlines the process for exemptions.
 

Vaccinations for general practice

The RACGP considers that vaccination of healthcare workers supports the medical profession’s duty of care and builds vaccine confidence in the community. While not mandatory for general practice in all jurisdictions, the RACGP strongly encourages all GPs and members of the practice team to be vaccinated against COVID-19, for their own protection and the protection of their patients.  

If you, or your practice wishes to implement vaccination requirements for team members and you are in a jurisdiction where it is not mandatory by public health order, you must do so with great consideration and within the workplace laws outlined by your state or territory. Due consideration must be taken as to the risk an unvaccinated staff member is to the practice, what their role involves, their contact with other team members and patients and their access to and willingness to wear appropriate PPE.

The RACGP’s Standards for General Practices (5th edition) provide guidance on staff vaccination, but do not delve into legal requirements. Practices should seek individual legal advice from their MDO.

Avant and Safe Work Australia provide useful information regarding situations where staff refuse vaccination, however, both of these webpages reiterate that these situations are often intricate, and that legal advice is always recommended.

The RACGP recommends regularly updating practice staff immunisation policies to ensure any new recruits are aware of vaccination obligations and expectations during the recruitment process.

  

People who have received an approved or recognised COVID-19 vaccine while overseas can have their vaccinations recorded in the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) by an approved vaccination provider once they return to Australia.

Vaccination documentation must be provided in English (original or translated) and the person must be present during the consultation (either in person or via telehealth if eligible) to confirm the information provided.

You can request extra supporting information if you receive insufficient information or suspect fraudulent evidence has been provided. You are not required to report the vaccination to the AIR if you do not believe the evidence provided is sufficient.

You are encouraged to enter as much vaccine information as possible. You must report the:
  • brand name
  • dose number
  • date of administration
  • batch number
  • country of administration (for overseas-administered vaccines).
If you cannot confirm the batch number, you should enter ‘not recorded’ in that field. If you are unable to record the country of administration using your clinical information system (CIS), you can enter this information directly into the AIR website. Using the latest version of your clinical information system will help ensure reporting requirements are met.
 

COVID-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme

The no-fault COVID-19 indemnity scheme opened to potential claimants on 13 December 2021 and will be backdated to February 2021.

The scheme reimburses people who suffer a moderate-to-significant impact following an adverse events following an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

A key aim of the scheme is to reduce the risk of legal action against a healthcare practitioner involved in the vaccination rollout. The scheme does not prevent someone from taking action through the courts – it has been designed as a streamlined alternative to court proceedings.

A number of resources on the scheme are available on the DoH’s website:

 

Professional indemnity coverage through your MDO

Each of the major medical defence organisations has released information addressing professional indemnity coverage for members providing COVID-19 vaccinations. If you are insured by another provider, contact that company directly regarding your coverage.

In summary, if you hold a professional indemnity policy and your scope of practice includes prescribing or administering vaccines, you will be covered in a similar way to other vaccination programs in the event of an adverse reaction following vaccination. 

 

Department of Health (DoH) resources

You can subscribe to receive the DoH 'COVID-vaccine updates' direct to your inbox.
 

Therapeutic Goods Administration resources

 

CoRiCal: Covid Risk Calculator

The Immunisation Coalition has developed tools to help people who are unsure about COVID-19 vaccination assess the risks and benefits of COVID-19 vaccination, alongside the risk from COVID-19 infection.

The coalition has recently updated a chart outlining the risk of developing myocarditis from COVID-19 infection or vaccination based on age, sex, and vaccination status.

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