Last week, following advice issued by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), the national COVID-19 vaccination rollout will be revised in light of concerns about AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine’s possible links to an extremely rare clotting disorder.
The current advice from ATAGI states:
Read the full ATAGI advice here.
Both ATAGI and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) will continue to monitor the situation closely and WA Primary Health Alliance will provide practices with new information as soon as it comes to hand.
The latest figures from Week 7 of the Australian Government COVID-19 reveal over one million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in Australia (1,178,302), nearly half a million (473,578) of those administered in primary care.
In WA, over 15,000 doses (15,839) have been rolled out in aged care and disability settings and close to 40,000 (39,787) doses have been administered through primary care (general practice, GP respiratory clinics and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services).
This represents an estimated 82 percent utilisation of WA’s available COVID-19 doses (the third highest utilisation rate in the country after TAS and the ACT).
Read more the latest Commonwealth update (12 April 2021) here.
The Therapeutic Goods Association confirmed on the 13 April there had been a second case of TTS after a woman received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.
The case occurred in a WA woman in her 40s who is now in a stable condition in hospital.
There have been about 700,000 doses of AstraZeneca given in Australia – meaning there has been a thrombosis event for every one in 350,000 doses.
Read the full update from the TGA here.
Providers should be aware of the warning signs In the rare case of a central venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) developing.
Reported cases of CVST following the AstraZeneca vaccine developed between four to 20 days after vaccination.
In some cases, the symptoms included a persistent headache that did not settle with analgesia, included features of raised intracranial pressure (including headache, confusion and vomiting, neurological deficits and/or seizures.
For more advice read ATAGI’s summary of current recommendations here.
The Australian Government is working through these implications with the states and territories as an urgent priority.
The AstraZeneca vaccine remains highly effective at preventing death and severe illness among people who have contracted COVID-19 and the incidence of the blood-clotting syndrome is very rare.
The programme will be considered and recalibrated to take into account the ATAGI recommendations, with further updates provided as decisions are made.
Australia has secured an additional 20 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, bringing to 40 million the total number of Pfizer vaccines available this year to vaccinate the Australian population, thus reducing reliance on the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Additionally, Australia now has contracts for more than 170 million vaccines.
Investment in the portfolio of vaccines is based on advice from the expert Science and Industry Technical Advisory Group, which is continually monitoring and assessing each of the vaccines to ensure that Australia remains well prepared for the rollout when the regulatory health and safety approvals have been granted.
The National Centre for Immunisation for Research and Surveillance (NCIRS) is continuing to update further resources and we will provide further updates and these links as soon as they are available.
In the context of the national picture as of 28 March, WA’s progress was impressive and we continue to work closely with the Commonwealth government’s vaccine workforce provider, to maintain and improve systems and processes.
The following content updates have now been published on the HealthPathways site:
COVID-19 Vaccination Procedure
COVID-19 MBS items:
Updated to reflect the extension of the temporary MBS telehealth and phone consultation services until 30 June 2021.
To access HealthPathways please email the HealthPathways team at firstname.lastname@example.org
COVID-19 Vaccination Training Modules - Update
Please see the following notice regarding the COVID-19 Vaccination Training Modules:
COVID-19 vaccine safety surveillance
The national roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines commenced on 22 February 2021, and AusVaxSafety is conducting active vaccine safety surveillance of the vaccines in use. The vaccines currently being supplied are Comirnaty BNT162b2 (mRNA), sponsored by Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd, and COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca, sponsored by AstraZeneca.
Surveillance data have been provided by Vaxtracker and SmartVax based on surveys sent on Day 3 after the vaccination, and data presented here are from surveys received up to 11 April 2021. These data are updated weekly.
AusVaxSafety active vaccine safety surveillance system complements the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) enhanced safety surveillance activities. View the TGA COVID-19 vaccine weekly safety report here. Find out more about how the TGA monitors the safety of COVID-19 vaccines and how you can report side effects on the TGA website
Please be aware that there have recently been a number of cold chain breaches reported in the Perth metro area. These have been due to a number of issues including power outages, fridge failures and overstocking of fridges (often due to large amounts of flu vaccinations being received).
Please ensure that your practice staff are aware of the importance of vaccine storage management, are familiar with your vaccine management protocol and of the ‘Strive for 5’ National Vaccine Storage Guidelines.
Please refer to the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines ‘Strive for 5’ for information and advice for vaccine storage management for Australian immunisation service providers.
My Health Record allows GPs and practice nurses to easily check immunisation history through the Australian Immunisation
WA Primary Health Alliance and WA Health would like to thank all providers for their cooperation regarding the pre-allocation period, and the process has worked well to provide equitable and predictable access to government-funded influenza vaccines for persons aged 65 years and over.
To allow practices to have more flexibility, practices are now able to order influenza vaccines through the standard WA Health vaccine ordering system.
Please be aware, quantity limits will continue to apply to ensure equitable access to all providers, and while all vaccine products continue to arrive at the WA warehouse.
For Further information see Information for GPs regarding pre-allocation and vaccine ordering, visit the Practice Assist 2021 Flu Vaccination Program page or contact email@example.com
This new resource from the Department of Health outlines the eligibility requirements for obtaining National Immunisation Program-funded influenza vaccines in 2021. Groups funded under the program include pregnant women, people with cardiac disease and people with chronic respiratory conditions.
The resource can be viewed here.
Would you like to enhance your practice’s digital capability with new information technology (IT) equipment to take part in virtual programs, such as telehealth video consultations, webinars, online meetings and more?
To support general practices across Western Australia, WA Primary Health Alliance (WAPHA) is providing GP Innovation
Grants of up to $1,500 per practice, including GST. for the purchase of information technology (IT) equipment to participate
in virtual programs.
Don’t miss this one-time-only opportunity to take advantage of WAPHA’s GP Innovation Grants, which are being allocated
on a first-come-first-served basis.
To apply for a grant, log in to the WAPHA portal and submit the online application form by the closing date of Friday 23
April 2021. If required, email Practice Assist for log in details.
For more information about WAPHA’s GP Innovation Grants and the online application process, view the fact sheet, email Practice Assist or call 1800 2 ASSIST (1800 2 277 478).
Please note: WAPHA’s GP Innovation Grants are designed to assist general practices with limited digital capability. As a result, corporate practices or legal entities with multiple practices can only apply for a grant for a maximum of four of their practices. Corporate practices and these legal entities should contact their head office before they apply for a grant
NPS MedicineWise accredited, evidence-based education and professional development topics for GPs are available to be delivered virtually by video call.
Sessions are free and can be delivered in 30mins at a time that suits you.
Bookings can be made via the NPS website. We can provide a video link, simple instructions and phone support for practices who haven’t tried video calls before.
For further information please visit the NPS Medicine Professional Education website here.
From 1 July 2021, Western Australians will have access to the Western Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Statewide Pharmacy Service and the Western Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Statewide Care Navigator Service.
The Western Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Statewide Pharmacy Service (SWPS) has been established to ensure the voluntary assisted dying substance is provided in a safe, equitable, and patient-centred manner. The SWPS continue preparations for operationalisation of this service for 1 July 2021. An information sheet on the SWPS is available here and more information will be made available prior to 1 July 2021.
The Western Australian Voluntary Assisted Dying Statewide Care Navigator Service (SWCNS) has been established to support anyone involved with voluntary assisted dying in WA. Preparations continue in the lead up to 1 July 2021 including the recent appointment of the SWCNS Clinical Nurse Consultant. Recruitment of the Care Navigators is also nearing completion. An information sheet on the SWCNS is available here and more information will be made available prior to 1 July 2021.
In February several resources were released and can be accessed on the WA Health voluntary assisted dying website.
An implementation conference for Western Australian health professionals will be held on Saturday the 22 and Sunday the 23 of May 2021. To register your attendance for the conference, please click here.
The MH Connext program helps connect patients who are experiencing severe and complex mental health issues to the right mental health care at the right time.
It is a recovery-oriented program provided in the community by experienced mental health practitioners.
The mental health practitioner works together with the patients GP to provide emotional and psychological help and connect patients with local support services to actively encourage a recovery journey.
For more information on this service please view the patient flyer here or patient brochure here.
The RACGP has published a Resource Guide that contains supplementary information to the 5th Standards. It is intended to assist practices meet the Indicators in the 5th edition.
This clinical trial is testing an integrated model of care involving physiotherapy, psychology and GP care, looking at how to help people with neck or back pain after a motor vehicle accident. The research team from Curtin University, University of Queensland, and University of Sydney have provided information for GPs who may have eligible and interested patients experiencing neck or back pain from a recent (< 3 months ago) motor vehicle accident. Please view the Recruitment Information for GPs flyer for more information, and further patient information is available through the trial website www.integrateclinicaltrial.com. Participation is funded by ICWA and is therefore free for patients.
Investigators from Monash University are conducting a RACGP-funded national survey of GPs regarding the management of patients with acute exacerbations of COPD.
Acute exacerbations of COPD are a leading cause of hospitalisation, with a substantial proportion of cases being potentially preventable. GPs are invited to complete a short survey that aims to better understand current practice and unmet needs in order to optimise care for these patients.
The survey can be accessed by clicking here.
Researchers from The University of Queensland, Centre for Online Health, are recruiting clinicians (general practitioners, nurse practitioners, and other allied health staff) to participate in a research study on telehealth use in primary care. For further information please view the flyer here.
The Australian Government announced that it will extend support for telehealth services and care, along with MBS-subsidised telehealth to 30 June 2021.
Along with this announcement, we are also pleased to announce the extension of the healthdirect Video Call COVID-19 GP Program to 31 December 2021. This provides free Video Call access for general practitioners working in private practice and/or Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations (ACCHOs).
This module covers more advanced use of the platform. The course will also suit Practice Managers and anyone interested in how Video Call can reshape the provision of services to patients or clients. Register here for advanced training
For further information, or to register for access to the platform, please contact the healthdirect Video Call team or the WAPHA Digital Health Team
Professional and personal pressures can arise for general practice teams at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic.
To support GPs and practice staff to look after themselves and take the necessary steps to support their wellbeing, WA Primary Health Alliance is offering three free confidential counselling sessions via its Wellness Program.
Provided through AccessEAP, and available to all WA-based general practice staff, the program offers confidential sessions with a counsellor who can offer information and assistance in navigating the COVID-19 response as well as other personal and professional issues.
Issues that can be addressed during counselling sessions include:
GPs and practice staff can also contact Practice Assist by calling 1800 2 ASSIST or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the program.
For more information please visit the Practice Assist COVID-19 Well-being and Support webpage.
Heart Week is coming soon, 3 – 9 May 2021! This year, the Heart Foundation is calling on health professionals to start a conversation with their patients about the importance of heart health and routine Heart Health Checks.
Make the most out of your vaccination appointments and use the opportunity for increased patient contact to book eligible patients in for a Heart Health Check and other important preventative checks. Access our Heart Week promotional pack to start the conversation.
Use templates and resources from our new Heart Health Check Toolkit to help streamline your delivery of Heart Health Checks and kickstart quality improvement activities. Browse the Toolkit here.
This Heart Week, join international and local CVD experts for an engaging discussion on the latest evidence for CVD prevention in primary care, including an update on coronary artery calcium scoring. Save your spot for the webinar today.
Coming up soon......
As part of our support for general practices, Practice Assist maintains a library of useful resources in our Practice Assist Resource Library. These resources range across different topics from GP Accreditation, Practice Incentives Program, to the latest in resources around COVID-19.
Here are some of our new and updated resources:
If you have an idea for a new resource or feedback on our current resources, please email email@example.com with ideas and comments.
WA Primary Health Alliance continues to operate a significant logistical strategy to distribute masks during the COVID-19 pandemic to general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, pharmacies and allied health practices that meet the criteria of the Department of Health Tranche 4 guidelines.
For mask requests, visit the Practice Assist website. Please note, re-orders will not be accepted within five business days (Mon-Fri) of the previous request, except in exceptional circumstances.
Please send all general queries in relation to the National Medical Stockpile to Stockpile.Ops@health.gov.au.
Visit our Webinars & Workshops page at www.practiceassist.com.au for the events calendar.