Dear Practice and Pharmacy Staff,
Please see this week’s collection of updates and links for COVID Care and Vaccinations.
Winter Booster Dose
A reminder of the groups eligible for the additional COVID-19 booster dose include:
adults aged 65 years and older
residents of aged care or disability care facilities
people aged 16 years and older with severe immunocompromise
First Nations people aged 50 years and older.
The COVID-19 winter booster dose can be given 4 months after the first booster dose, for the above population groups. Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) remain the preferred vaccines for the booster and winter doses. Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) can be used when an mRNA vaccine is contraindicated or a patient declines vaccination with an mRNA vaccine. Nuvaxovid (Novavax) can be used as a booster if no other COVID-19 vaccine is considered suitable for that individual.
Seasonal influenza vaccines
With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, a resurgence of influenza is expected in 2022, with the Australian community potentially more vulnerable this winter. Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for all people aged 6 months and over. The National Immunisation Program funds influenza vaccines for people most at risk.
Influenza vaccines can be safely co-administered with COVID-19 vaccines. People who have been sick with COVID-19 can receive an influenza vaccine once they feel well and have no fever.
Young children are particularly at risk this season as many have potentially never been exposed to influenza. Children 6 months to less than 5 years are eligible for a free influenza vaccine. Vaccination rates in pregnant women remain low, despite vaccination being recommended in each pregnancy and at any stage of pregnancy.
Vaccination Locations in Western Queensland
The list of Vaccination Clinics in Western Queensland is updated weekly. It includes General Practices, Pharmacies and HHS outreach clinics and is available on the WQPHN website.
Please email Melissa Williams to notify WQPHN of any change you want to your listing.
Changes to quarantine requirement for close contacts
From 6pm Thursday 28 April 2022, the quarantine requirements for close contacts changed. There is no quarantine requirements for close contacts as long as they:
do not have COVID-19 symptoms
test negative every second day for a week from the day of becoming a close contact (day 0, 2, 4 and 6)
wear a mask outside of the home for 7 days
do not visit any vulnerable settings (hospitals, residential aged care facilities, disability accommodation services, corrective services facilities and detention centres) for 7 days
let their employer know they are a close contact
work from home if possible
Full details of the changes are described in the Isolation for Diagnosed Cases of COVID-19 and Management of Close Contacts Direction (No. 7):
provides operators at vulnerable or high risk settings with the ability to approve entry of diagnosed cases and close contacts in exceptional and compassionate circumstances, where conditions in the direction are met (these conditions align with conditions generally attaching to individual exemptions approved by a Deputy CHO)
allows for early departure from the Queensland Regional Accommodation Centre for an isolating or quarantining person in order to use government arranged transport during the seventh day of isolation or quarantine
clarifies that accommodation for isolation or quarantine includes a cabin on a cruise liner
clarifies that home Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) should not be used to test children under the age of two years
includes students as workers at vulnerable facilities for the purpose of close contact restrictions
includes volunteers engaged by a vulnerable facility as workers for the purpose of close contact restrictions
allows diagnosed persons to travel by endorsed transport provider when permitted to leave the isolation premises, e.g. for safety reasons.
The Public Health Direction specifies the mandatory and minimum requirements that apply to individuals who have received a positive COVID-19 diagnosis and their close contacts.
Individuals may choose to adopt greater infection control measures, and nothing in this direction prevents an employer, organisation or industry from implementing additional infection control measures through protocols, policies or local guidelines. View link for more information.
Second Oral Treatment now available through the PBS
From 1 May, Paxlovid, the second COVID-19 oral treatments approved for use in Australia, will also be available through the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS). Paxlovid benefits patients with mild to moderate COVID-19, who are at risk of developing severe disease. A link to a Paxlovid fact sheet is here.
The clinical criteria for Lagevrio already on the PBS and for Paxlovid are:
people 65 years or older with two additional high-risk factors for developing severe disease
people 75 years or older with one additional high-risk factor for developing severe disease
moderately to severely immunocompromised people, aged 18 years and over, irrespective of vaccination status, and
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years or older with two additional high-risk factors for developing severe disease.
These medications are taken as capsules or tablets. Treatment needs to commence within five days of a patient being diagnosed with COVID-19, or within five days of the patient starting to develop symptoms of COVID-19. The earlier the treatment commences, the better the long-term outcome.
Reminder: Pulse oximeters are available for your practice. WQPHN holds a small amount of stock from the National Medical Stockpile. Each practice can order up to ten devices for patients who would benefit from having a device at home to help them monitor their oxygen saturation.
Guidance on Myocarditis and Pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19
General practitioners should refer to HealthPathways for up-to-date information on the clinical management of people with moderate risk, including escalation pathways if people deteriorate and for referral to oral treatments.
Save the date, Qld PHNs COVID-19 update for General Practice #6
Topic: Winter Readiness. The coincidence of Influenza and COVID-19
Date: Thursday 12 May
Time: 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Dr Steven Donohue, Director, Townsville Public Health Unit
Dr Trent Yarwood, Infectious Disease Specialist, Cairns
Dr Karen Benn, GP, St George, South West Queensland
Join us as we discuss the impact of the coming flu season and continuing presence of COVID-19. There will also be an opportunity to submit questions in advance.
Please email your questions to Kathleen.O’Hara@wqphn.com.au and they will be addressed on the night (time permitting).