RACGP updated home-care guidelines:
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has released new home-care guidelines for patients with COVID-19. These updated guidelines include information and advice on the following:
- Supporting patients through a COVID-19 diagnosis
- Determining medical and social risk factors and disease severity
- Determining home-care suitability and the appropriate monitoring protocol
- Escalating care where necessary
Updated guidelines can be found at the following link: RACGP - Home-care guidelines for patients with COVID-19
Department of Health resources:
The Department of Health has published several collections of resources about COVID-19 vaccination, vaccine rollout, and clinical guidance from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI). These resources are updated when new information is available, so GPs should ensure they have access to the latest versions.
Omicron is a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19. The World Health Organization declared it a ‘variant of concern’ on 26 November 2021. Department of Health is monitoring the evolving situation overseas and working closely with the WHO. Preliminary evidence indicates that Omicron may only lead to mild symptoms among most people who contract it.
Experts around the world are monitoring it closely to see if it is more likely to lead to severe illness compared to earlier variants. There is no evidence to date that the vaccines Australians have been given are any less effective at preventing severe illness, hospitalisation or death from Omicron.
More about Omicron variant is available here: https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/omicron-variant
Booster doses of the COVID-19 vaccine
A COVID-19 booster dose is now recommended by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) for people who:
- are 18 years and older, and
- have had their second dose of their primary dose course of COVID-19 vaccination at least 6 months ago.
Booster doses are not mandatory, but are recommended to maintain immunity against COVID-19.
ATAGI is not currently recommending booster doses for:
- people aged 12 to 17 years OR
- people who are severely immunocompromised and have already had a third dose.
Read ATAGI’s advice on COVID-19 booster doses.
Resources for third doses for the immunocompromised
On 8 October 2021, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) released advice recommending a third dose of COVID-19 vaccine as part of the primary course in individuals who are severely immunocompromised. These resources will assist GPs with patients requiring a third dose:
Requirements for workers in health care settings who are exposed to COVID-19
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), with advice from the Communicable Diseases Network Australia (CDNA) and the Infection Control Expert Group (ICEG), has endorsed a Worker Permissions and Restrictions Framework for Workers in Health Care Settings.
The framework outlines nationally agreed recommendations that will support safe decision making when determining appropriate workplace restrictions and permissions for a worker exposed to COVID-19. The framework provides guidance on how GPs and practice staff can avoid having to isolate after a patient who attended the practice later tests positive to COVID-19.
The Worker Permissions and Restrictions Framework is available here.
Vaccine product information
- ATAGI and the Cardiac Society of Australia and New Zealand (CSANZ) have released joint guidance on the risk of myocarditis and pericarditis following Pfizer vaccination following an observed risk in overseas studies, especially in males under 30 years of age after the second doses. The Pfizer Product Information has been updated to reflect this.
- The Product Information (PI) for the AstraZeneca vaccine has been updated to include Capillary Leak Syndrome (CLS) as a contraindication for the AstraZeneca vaccine. Providers should be aware of the information contained in the PI and individuals with a known history of CLS should not be vaccinated with AstraZeneca.
- Consent form: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-consent-form-for-covid-19-vaccination
Patient information sheets
- Information on AstraZeneca: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-information-on-covid-19-astrazeneca-vaccine
- Information on Pfizer: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-information-on-covid-19-pfizer-comirnaty-vaccine
- After your AstraZeneca: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-after-your-astrazeneca-vaccine
- After your Pfizer: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-after-your-pfizer-comirnaty-vaccine
- Provider information on consent: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-consent-information-for-providers-covid-19-vaccination-consent-and-faqs
- Frequently asked questions on the Taskforce Ivermectin recommendation: https://covid19evidence.net.au/wp-content/uploads/NC19CET-Ivermectin-FAQs-20210826.pdf
Clinical guidance and decision guides
- ATAGI Clinical guidance: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-atagi-clinical-guidance-on-covid-19-vaccine-in-australia-in-2021
- COVID-19 vaccine – Clinical considerations: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/information-for-covid-19-vaccination-providers/covid-19-vaccine-clinical-considerations
- Selection of second dose in specific circumstances: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-clinical-advice-on-the-use-of-a-different-covid-19-vaccine-as-the-second-dose
- Shared decision making guide – pregnancy: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-shared-decision-making-guide-for-women-who-are-pregnant-breastfeeding-or-planning-pregnancy
- Shared decision making guide – frail older people: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-shared-decision-making-guide-for-frail-older-people-including-those-in-residential-aged-care-facilities
- Shared decision making guide – palliative care: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-shared-decision-making-guide-for-people-receiving-palliative-care-or-end-of-life-care
- Shared decision making guide – immunocompromise: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/atagi-covid-19-vaccination-shared-decision-making-guide-for-people-with-immunocompromise
- Provider guide on immunocompromise: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/atagi-provider-guide-to-covid-19-vaccination-of-people-with-immunocompromise
- Primary care guide on TTS: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-primary-care-approach-to-thrombosis-with-thrombocytopenia-syndrome-after-covid-19-astrazeneca-vaccine
- Provider information – TTS: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-information-for-immunisation-providers-on-thrombosis-with-thrombocytopenia-syndrome-tts-following-covid-19-vaccination
- Patient information – TTS: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/patient-information-sheet-on-astrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine-and-thrombosis-with-thrombocytopenia-syndrome-tts
- COVID-19 vaccination – Guide to engage and support aged care workers to get a COVID-19 vaccine: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-guide-to-engage-and-support-aged-care-workers-to-get-a-covid-19-vaccine
Resources for doctors working with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients
- Updated guidance on TGA advertising restrictions, explaining how you can inform your patients about different vaccine brands availability in your clinic. This includes social, posters and web content.
- A video animation in plain English that could be sent to your patients’ emails or used in your clinic waiting room explaining what to expect on your vaccination day, side effects and the need for two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
- A suite of talking points designed for healthcare workers, to assist them with having conversations with patients about COVID-19 vaccines.
- Updated social resources with suggested captions to use across your social media networks
Resources for doctors about pregnancy
Members are also reminded that if you are part of the vaccine roll out and have any problems, the key point of contact in the Commonwealth to raise these is the Vaccine Operations Centre (VOC) that can be contacted on:
Phone: 1800 318 308
Note: The VOC hours of operation are between 7am to 10pm (AEDT).