COVID-19 vaccine information for GPs


General practice is part of the Australian COVID-19 vaccination policy and the RACGP will provide information to support our members during the vaccine roll out. This page will be updated with the latest information and resources as they become available.

Information on this page was last updated on Tuesday 27 July 2021, 11.30 am AEST.

Recent updates include:

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Pregnant people now eligible for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine - 23 July 2021


Pregnant people are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as part of phase 1b of the vaccine rollout. All pregnant people can now access the vaccine, irrespective of age.

This is in alignment with advice from Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) and Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RANZCOG) who released a joint statement on 9 June 2021 stating:

RANZCOG and ATAGI recommend that pregnant women are routinely offered Pfizer mRNA vaccine (Cominarty) at any stage of pregnancy. This is because the risk of severe outcomes from COVID-19 is significantly higher for pregnant women and their unborn baby. 

A shared decision making guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy is available
 

TGA extend provisional approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to those 12 years and older - 23 July 2021


The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has extended the provisionally approval for the use of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to include those 12-15 years of age. Previously, the vaccine was provisionally approved for use in those 16 years or older.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt stated that "the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) will now consider this approval and provide expert advice on which groups of adolescents should be prioritised for the roll out of the vaccine and how and when it should be administered."
 

Use of COVID-19 vaccines in an outbreak settings - 13 July 2021


The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has released a statement on use of COVID-19 vaccines in an outbreak setting.

ATAGI made the following recommendations:

  1. ATAGI reinforces that the benefits of vaccination with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca strongly outweigh the risks of adverse effects in those ≥60 years, and that vaccination is essential for this group in the context of an outbreak. 
  2. Every effort should be made to support vaccination of people in priority groups (e.g., older people, healthcare workers, disability and aged care workers, and those with listed medical comorbidities).  
  3. In the context of a COVID-19 outbreak where the supply of Comirnaty (Pfizer) is constrained, adults younger than 60 years old who do not have immediate access to Comirnaty (Pfizer) should re-assess the benefits to them and their contacts from being vaccinated with COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, versus the rare risk of a serious side effect.
  4. While the recommended interval between the first and second doses of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca is between 4 and 12 weeks, in outbreak situations an interval of between 4 and 8 weeks is preferred. Therefore, people in an outbreak situation who received their first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca more than 4 weeks ago should contact their vaccine provider to arrange their second dose as soon as possible.  In non-outbreak settings, the preferred interval between doses of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca remains at 12 weeks
  5. All people who receive COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca should be provided with information about common and rare but serious side effects, including the symptoms and signs of the thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS). They should be advised that if they experience any signs or symptoms consistent with TTS, they should seek immediate medical attention.
  6. Any additional unallocated supplies of both Comirnaty (Pfizer) and COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca should be prioritised to populations and areas of greatest risk of COVID-19.  
  7. Recommendations around the use of Comirnaty (Pfizer) remain unchanged in outbreak settings. 

This advice follows NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant encouraging people in Greater Sydney to consider having their second AstraZeneca dose earlier based on the current context. 



In addition to the below, individuals aged 18-40 who are not otherwise eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, can request to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. To receive the vaccine patients must weigh up the risks and benefits and provide informed consent.

Please note that eligibility criteria has been expanded in some areas by state and territory governments. This expanded eligibility only applies to state/territory vaccination providers.   
 

Phase:  Status:  Eligible populations
1a
 
Underway
  • Quarantine and border workers
  • Frontline healthcare worker sub-groups for prioritisation
  • Aged care and disability care staff
  • Aged care and disability care residents
1b



 
Underway
  • Elderly adults aged 70 years and over
  • Other health care workers
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and over
  • Peopel aged 16 and over with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability
  • Critical and high risk workers over 16 including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing
  • Individuals with an Australian Border Force outwards travel exemption in an eligible category 
  • Pregnant people
See detailed eligibility criteria
2a
 

Underway

  • Adults aged 40 years and over
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 16-49 years
  • NDIS participants aged years 16 and over, and carers of NDIS participants of any age
  • Temporary visa holders aged under 50 years who are currently in Australia and have been approved for return travel to Australia through the travel exemption process
2b TBC
  • Balance of adult population aged 16 years and over (only the Pfizer vaccine is approved for use in those who are 16 and 17 years of age) 
3 TBC
  • People under 16 years of age if recommended


COVID-19 vaccination will available and free for all people living in Australia, including:

  • all Medicare-eligible Australians
  • all visa-holders, including refugees, asylum seekers, temporary protection visa holders, and those on bridging visas
  • people currently residing in detention facilities, including those whose visas have been cancelled. 

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.

 

The Department of Health (DoH) has released resources and information for health professionals on COVID-19 vaccinations:

 

Key resources include:

 

Resources for specific patient groups:

 

ATAGI Statements:

 

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

 

Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre:

 

Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) resources include:

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

Ordering stock and consumables

Vaccine stock and consumables can be ordered through the online portal

If you're having issues with ordering or delivery of vaccines and consumables, contact the Vaccine Operations Centre hotline on 1800 318 208 or email COVID19VaccineOperationsCentre@Health.gov.au


COVID-19 vaccination training program

As part of the rollout, authorised vaccine providers will need to complete mandatory COVID-19 vaccination training. Participants are notified by email when updates are made and are expected to log on and review the changes. 

If you are experiencing technical issues with the training modules, please use the chat function (Available Monday - Friday, 8.00 am - 6.00 pm (AEST)) or contact COVID19VaccinationTraining@Health.gov.au

 

Excess dose policy

To minimise vaccine wastage, the Federal Department of Health’s (DoH) excess dose policy outlines strategies for using these doses before they expire. 

Strategies include maintaining a reserve list of eligible patients and contacting those who haven’t made an appointment, bringing forward appointments, or identifying patients or staff who fit the eligibility criteria and who are at the practice when the excess doses are identified.

The policy allows for practices to contact and vaccinate patients or staff who will be eligible in future phases if no currently eligible person is available.
 

Advertising COVID-19 vaccines at your practice

The TGA have updated their guidance on communicating about COVID-19 vaccines to reflect changes in COVID-19 vaccine advertising rules.  

Subject to certain conditions these changes allow organisations to:

  • generate their own informational material to support COVID-19 vaccines
  • offer rewards to people who have been fully vaccinated under the Government's national COVID-19 vaccination program
  • use materials produced by the Australian Government or an Australian state or territory government to promote COVID-19 vaccines
  • publicly present factual and balanced information, that is not promotional and therefore not subject to the advertising rules, about the COVID-19 vaccines.
The changes also exempt health professionals from the prohibition of endorsing a medicine or other therapeutic good, in relation to registered COVID-19 vaccines ONLY. 


Practices taking part in the COVID-19 vaccination rollout can use resources and templates developed by the Department of Health to inform their patients that they are only providing a specific brand of vaccine: 

The RACGP has prepared an overview of the MBS items available to assess patients for their suitability to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

GPs administering COVID-19 vaccines to people at home or in a disability or residential aged care facility will be paid an additional fee for each visit they make. 

On 18 June 2021, the Minister for Health announced a new Medicare item for GPs to counsel patients and build confidence in the COVID-19 vaccine. At that stage the item number only applied to patients over 50. On 29 June 2021, the Minister announced the vaccine counselling item, will be expanded to all patients, irrespective of age.

Visit RACGP's MBS webpage for full item descriptors and rebates. 

 

Practice Incentives Program (PIP) – COVID-19 vaccine general practice incentive

An accredited general practice that has completed two vaccine suitability assessment services for the same patient is eligible for a $10 payment (payable only once per patient) under the Practice Incentives Program (PIP).

The Australian Government has released guidelines for the Practice Incentives Program (PIP) – COVID-19 Vaccine General Practice Incentive.


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.
 

About the vaccines:

Receiving the vaccine:

 

Information for specific patient groups:

Easy read fact sheets are also available. 

 

​Supporting 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 developed a stakeholder pack to support you in communicating and sharing COVID-19 vaccine information with culturally and linguistically diverse communities, including in-language: 

  • videos 
  • audio
  • posters
  • easy-to-read factsheets
  • social media resources

Access the pack 


 


The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is responsible for monitoring the safety of all vaccines approved for use in Australia. 

You can find weekly COVID-19 vaccine safety reports, information on Australia's vaccine monitoring system and information on reporting suspected vaccine side effects, on the TGA website.

On 23 July 2021, the TGA amended the product information for the Pfizer vaccine to include safety-related information on myocarditis and pericarditis.
 

COVID-19 Vaccination Program Implementation Plan: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

Vaccination for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will take place across Phase 1b and 2a of the Australian Government’s vaccine rollout strategy. A comprehensive vaccine implementation plan has been developed in consultation with the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health sector through the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Advisory Group on COVID-19, and with state and territory governments. You can access the plan online.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people will be able to access the vaccine in Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and in all other practices where the vaccine is available.  


Information about COVID-19 vaccines for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People

National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation (NACCHO) and National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) have developed a resource to help you answer some questions we’ve frequently heard from community.  
 

COVID-19 vaccines communication materials for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 

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  
  • updated 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.  
 

You can support Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to receive the vaccine by:  

 

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:


Commonwealth professional indemnity scheme
As per the Prime Minister’s media statement following the 28 June National Cabinet meeting:
  • National Cabinet noted that the Commonwealth will establish a COVID-19 professional indemnity scheme to provide additional certainty to healthcare practitioners who are providing advice to people in relation to COVID-19 vaccination. The scheme covers COVID-19 vaccines approved by the TGA and approved for use in the vaccine program.
  • National Cabinet noted that GPs can continue to administer AstraZeneca to Australians under 60 years of age with informed consent and that this measure will provide confidence to medical practitioners to administer both AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines to Australians.
We will provide further information as it is available.

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. 

National webinars

Webinar Date Time Host Registration
General Practice COVID-19 update Every Thursday  11.30 am - 12.15 pm (AEST) Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health View upcoming and previous webinars
TTS and the use of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine in younger populations – An update for GPs (RECORDED 26 July 2021) On demand On demand A/Prof Vivien Chen, Dr Danny Hsu, A/Prof Charlotte Hespe, Dr Ai-Vee Chua View here
A GP’s guide to thrombosis and thrombocytopenia syndrome (RECORDED 31 May 2021) On demand On demand A/Prof Vivien Chen, Dr Danny Hsu, A/Prof Charlotte Hespe, Dr Ai-Vee Chua View here
PHN led webinars  Varied Varied Your local PHN Visit your PHNs webpage


Department of Health (DoH) resources

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

Therapeutic Goods Administration resources

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