Vaccinations in general practice
The vaccination of healthcare workers supports their duty of care to patients, builds vaccine confidence in the community, provides a protected workforce in the event of an outbreak of a vaccine preventable infection and contributes to workforce health and safety. The RACGP considers vaccination of patients, especially vulnerable cohorts, a critical activity for general practice to undertake in caring for their community.
While the vaccination of healthcare workers is 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 and influenza, and to be considered up to date with these vaccinations.
Should an outbreak of a vaccine preventable disease occur, unvaccinated staff will either be required to adopt further precautions (eg personal protective equipment (PPE)), and/or be reassigned duties or may be asked to remain away from the practice. Requirements of unprotected staff will vary depending on a range of factors that are specific to each individual practice.
The RACGP’s Standards for general practices (5th edition) (the Standards) includes staff vaccination recommendations and requirements. Chapter 6 of the RACGP Infection prevention and control guidelines provides further clarification on staff screening and immunisation. In the Australian Immunisation Handbook, healthcare workers are identified as a group at increased risk of certain occupationally acquired vaccine-preventable diseases. This is for their own protection and the protection of patients. Please check the requirements in your area.
Planning for the vaccination of patients – stock ordering and cold chain storage
The success of any vaccination program relies on the potency of vaccines when they are administered to patients. As vaccines are unstable, they can become less effective or destroyed if they are not maintained within an optimal temperature range or are exposed to direct ultraviolet (UV) light. This applies to both vaccine transport and storage.
General practices must therefore maintain the potency of vaccines to ensure they are effective in improving immunity against disease. For further information on vaccine storage management, refer to the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines ‘Strive for 5’. The Standards has requirements for accredited practices regarding the storage and monitoring of vaccinations.
The RACGP has two CPD modules that address vaccine clinical guidance for GPS (noting they are only accessible for members of the RACGP CPD home):
Patient Vaccination – Influenza (Flu)
The 2023 flu vaccines are now available and recommended for everyone aged 6 months and older.
The flu vaccines are funded under the National Immunisation Program for:
- adults 65 years and older
- children under five (older than 6 months)
- pregnant women
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
- people aged six months and older with medical conditions putting them at increased risk of severe influenza and its complications:
- cardiac disease
- chronic respiratory conditions
- chronic neurological conditions
- immunocompromising conditions
- diabetes and other metabolic disorders
- renal disease
- haematological disorders
- children aged six months to 10 years on long term aspirin therapy.
For more information, visit ATAGI’s advice on seasonal influenza vaccines in 2023.
The RACGP has collated Flu season 2023 resources which includes posters, factsheets and digital assets from a range of sources including the RACGP, state and federal governments.
State and Territory vaccination programs
Some States and Territories have additional inclusion criteria for high-risk groups. Please check the inclusion criteria in your State or Territory vaccination program: