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COVID-19: GP Alert (21 June 2021)

June 21, 2021

Announcement – New MBS items

OVER 50'S COVID VACCINE ADVICE
From 18 June 2021, the Government introduced two new MBS items (10660 and 10661) to support GPs and OMPs to provide in-depth clinical assessments of patients aged 50 years and over regarding patients’ individual health risks and benefits associated with receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.The payment will be $38.75 and it will need to be bulk-billed, in conjunction with the existing vaccine suitability assessment items. For more information please see MBS online.

GPS WILL BE ABLE TO VISIT DISABILITY ACCOMMODATION, RESIDENTS AT HOME AND RACFS TO GIVE THE COVID-19 VACCINE

The Minister for Health announced that GPs will be able to visit people at home or in a disability or residential aged care facility to give the COVID-19 vaccine. GPs will be paid $56.75 plus the vaccination fee for the first patient they visit in a residential aged care facility, in a disability home, or where individuals are frail or immobile and unable to leave their own homes. For more information see the MBS fact sheet.

Astra Zeneca vaccine update

ATAGI has advised that people of any age without contraindications who have had their first dose of COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca without any serious adverse events should receive a second dose of the same vaccine. This is supported by data indicating a substantially lower rate of TTS following a second COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca dose in the United Kingdom (UK).

The Chief Medical Officer also wrote to all GPs last week about possible symptoms of TTS and its diagnosis. Please ensure you’re familiar with the symptoms of TTS and check that your patients are aware of what to be alert for. Please remember to refer patients for further testing or treatment if they present with persistent headaches or other concerning symptoms after they've received the AstraZeneca vaccine.

UPDATE - COVID-19 vaccine eligibility

From 8 June 2021, the following people became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • all adults aged 40-49
  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 16 to 49
  • NDIS participants aged 16 years and over, and carers of NDIS participants of any age
  • temporary visa holders aged under 50 years who are currently in Australia and have been approved for return travel to Australia through the travel exemption process.

You can use the Vaccine Eligibility Checker to check your patient's eligibility.

UPDATE - Guidance for use of PPE for health care workers and CDNA guidelines

The CDNA guidelines were updated and released last week - Current version: 4.6, published 16 June 2021. Amendments include:

  • Revised: The Disease (p.9)
  • Revised: Testing (p.19) – see ICEG-endorsed infection control guidance
  • Revised: Case Management (p.28) - see ICEG-endorsed infection control guidance –
  • Guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers in the context of COVID-19.

REMINDER - Time between COVID-19 vaccine and flu vaccine

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) now recommends a minimum seven day window between the COVID-19 vaccine and the flu vaccine, regardless of which is administered first.

Hotspot UPDATE

  • The Declared Hotspots Direction declared the Local Government Area of Waverley in New South Wales as a hotspot.
  • The Local Government Areas that make up Greater Melbourne in Victoria continue to be declared hotspots.
  • Anyone who has been to a hotspot in the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter Queensland, except for a limited range of people who can enter for essential purposes.
  • More information about Queensland’s Public Health Directions can be found on the Queensland Health website.