Following provisional TGA approval, a staged rollout of COVID-19 vaccines has commenced. The Department of Health’s vaccine rollout roadmap determines the phases of vaccination for priority groups.
The National Boards and Ahpra have released a joint statement, Registered health practitioners and students and COVID-19 vaccination, on what is expected of health practitioners and students in giving, receiving and advising on and sharing information about COVID-19 vaccines.
AstraZenica Vaccine and Safety Concerns
On 8 April 2021, the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended changes to Australia’s COVID-19 Vaccine Program in light of the evolving evidence of an extremely rare but serious side effect involving unusual blood clots following receipt of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
ATAGI has further recommended that:
- The AstraZeneca vaccine should only be used in adults aged under 50 where the benefits clearly outweigh the risk for that individual and the person has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits.
- People who have had the first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse effects can be given the second dose, including adults under 50 years.
For full details see:
- ATAGI statement on AstraZeneca vaccine in response to new vaccine safety concerns (8 April 2021)
- Joint statement from Department of Health Secretary and the Chief Medical Officer about ATAGI’s advice of 8 April (8 April 2021)
- ATAGI statement for healthcare providers on a specific clotting condition being reported after COVID-19 vaccination (2 April 2021)
COVID-19 Vaccination in Dermatology Patients on Immunomodulatory and Biologic Agents
Guidance on COVID-19 vaccinations in dermatology patients on immunomodulatory and biologic agents was published in the Australasian Journal of Dermatology in March. The article by the Australasian Medical Dermatology Group makes preliminary recommendations around COVID-19 vaccination in these patients.
- Vaccination against COVID-19 is strongly encouraged for all patients on immunomodulatory drugs and/or biologic agents.
- There is currently insufficient data to recommend one COVID-19 vaccine or vaccine type over another.
- No specific additional risk in patients on immunomodulatory or biologic therapies has so far been identified.
- Data on vaccine efficacy in patients on these therapies is missing, so standard vaccination protocols are recommended until otherwise advised.
Resources available for your patients include:
- A patient factsheet produced by the Skin Health Institute: COVID-19 vaccine information for people on an immunosuppressive or biological treatment
- A decision guide produced by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI): COVID-19 vaccination decision guide for people with immunocompromise
Federal Government Links
Department of Health | COVID-19 Health Alert – daily update
Department of Health | Definition of people at risk for serious illness from COVID-19
MBS Online | COVID-19 Teleheath
Therapeutic Goods Administration | COVID-19: Information on medicines and medical devices
Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme | Restriction requirement exemptions for some medicines during COVID 19