Influenza Vaccination Clinics during the COVID-19 pandemic
The information below outlines possible approaches practices can take regarding the administration of flu vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. The RACGP continues to advocate that patients receive flu vaccinations from their regular GP to reduce fragmented care.
Those who are vulnerable must not be invited into unprepared clinics to receive their flu vaccine. Those who are at higher risk of hosting the virus must be kept separate from those who are vulnerable. This might be done in several ways:
Dedicating clinic time and space to flu vaccinations
Practices may consider dedicating specific sessions or days to exclusively administering flu vaccines. They may choose to close access to general clinic patients for a day/half day/few hours to achieve this, or they may find that separating their practice into two sections (one to be used as a general practice, the other as a vaccination clinic) is more achievable.
Some practices have utilised local car parks as outdoor vaccination locations. The same could be done in conveniently located gardens or around the perimeters of your practice, depending on space available. Practices may also want to consider combining forces with other primary care providers by establishing shared vaccination clinics within community settings. However, before doing so, make sure to discuss any permit approval requirements with your local government.
It is important to note that clinics will need to provide patients with a safe space to be observed after their vaccination and must be able to supervise this area at all times. Depending on the practice, this could mean patients waiting outside (e.g. on a veranda), or in a dedicated consulting room if space permits. Separate entrances to the divided sections of the practice should be considered. For example, practices may have a room with an external door that can be used by a certain cohort to avoid crossover of patient groups.
- the clinic must be laid out in a manner that aligns with infection control principles
- ensure that all patients, including those with a disability or impairment, can easily and safely physically access the practice
- the clinic may need to operate extended hours to meet demand and communicate the newly implemented processes to the community
- adequate waiting space options must be available for post-vaccination observation and there must be processes in place to facilitate this observation
- dedicated flu vaccine clinics should not interfere with or impact the quality of care being provided to those patients attending your practice for standard appointments
- the location of clinics should be determined in collaboration with local councils and Primary Health Networks
- off-site clinics should not pose a health or business risk to any surrounding facilities
- clinics must be adequately stocked with PPE and supplies such as sharps containers, waste containers and cleaning supplies
- all clinic staff must receive training in patient triage, testing protocols and infection control procedures
- all clinics must have a protocol for managing anaphylaxis which includes having adrenaline, needles and intramuscular syringes available for immediate use
- adequate parking options must be available
The Australian Immunisation Handbook contains information on what to do After Vaccination.