COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

Vaccine

When will the COVID-19 vaccinations commence in Australia?

Phase 1a of the staged rollout with the Pfizer vaccine commenced Australia-wide on Monday 22 February 2021. This mRNA COVID-19 vaccine was provisionally approved for use in Australia on 25 January 2021. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has provided clinical guidance on the use of this vaccine.
 

Where can I find the COVID-19 vaccination training available for immunisation providers?

In preparation for Australia’s vaccine rollout, authorised COVID-19 vaccination providers must complete COVID-19 vaccination training. The COVID-19 vaccination training modules are categorised into two groups, core and additional.
 
Core COVID-19 training modules cover:
  • COVID-19 introduction
  • handling and storage
  • communication and purpose
  • multi-dose vial (MDV) training
  • documentation and reporting
  • safety and surveillance monitoring and reporting for adverse events following immunisation.
 
Additional COVID-19 training modules include specific training for:
  • Pfizer/BioNTech (module available)
  • Oxford University/AstraZeneca
  • Novavax
  • future vaccines (i.e. as possible new vaccines emerge).
 
To enrol, COVID-19 vaccination providers are required to:
  • have already undertaken required training specific to their profession
  • have the authority to administer vaccinations in their relevant state or territory.
 
Administrative or non-clinical staff can also enrol to access non-clinical modules. For more information, visit the COVID-19 vaccination training program webpage. To access the COVID-19 vaccination training, visit covid19vaccinationtraining.org.au
 

Can the COVID-19 vaccine and a flu vaccine be given at the same time?

It is not recommended to administer the influenza vaccine with a COVID-19 vaccine on the same day.  The preferred minimum interval between a dose of seasonal influenza vaccine and a dose of Pfizer vaccine or AstraZeneca vaccine is 14 days. There may be circumstances where co-administration or near administration (within days) of an influenza vaccine with a COVID-19 vaccine may be considered.
 
There is no requirement regarding the order of receiving a dose of influenza vaccine and either the first or second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. If an influenza vaccine has been inadvertently co-administered or given within a shorter interval than 14 days with a COVID-19 vaccine, revaccination with either vaccine is not considered necessary.

For more information, view the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) Advice on the relative timing of administering influenza and COVID-19 vaccines in 2021.

Will the Pfizer vaccine, which has -70 degree storage requirements, be given through GP clinics?

No, not initially.  This is due to the difficulties with cold chain management. The Pfizer vaccine doses will be available through 30 -50 hospital sites across Australia in metropolitan and regional areas.

For more information read Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine national roll-out strategy

This strategy outlines sites and priority populations for initial vaccinations, and the phases in which vaccine doses will be made available in Australia.
 

Will consumables (syringes, needles, etc) be provided or will these need to be ordered in by practices?

To support the COVID-19 vaccine rollout program, the Australian Government has entered into agreements for the supply of consumables required for the administration of the vaccines, such as needles, syringes and sharps disposal containers.
 
General practices are encouraged to source their own supply of consumables, however if they are unable to source through existing mechanisms they may be ordered through the Commonwealth. Vaccines and consumables can be ordered through the same online portal, with further guidance to be provided with the on-boarding pack. Special equipment will not be required for the administration of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
 
For more information, view the General Practice Guidance document for Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout on the Department of Health website.
 

Are COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory?

The COVID-19 vaccines are voluntary and free. The Australian Government has stated that COVID-19 vaccination is not mandatory and individuals may choose not to vaccinate. However, vaccination is strongly recommended to keep our community safe.
 
In the future, it is possible that vaccination may become a requirement for travel to certain destinations or for people working in certain high-risk workplaces. If this is the case, it is anticipated there will be exemptions for people who are unable to be vaccinated. 

What are the phases of the national vaccine rollout strategy?

Due to the practical and logistical considerations, the COVID-19 vaccines will be implemented in a staged rollout throughout 2021 and beyond.

Phase 1a

  • Quarantine and border workers
  • Frontline at-risk healthcare workers
  • Residential aged care and disability care staff
  • Residential aged care and disability care residents.
Phase 1b
  • Adults over 70 years
  • All other health care workers
  • Begin vaccinating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Younger adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability
  • Critical and high-risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing.
Phase 2a
  • Adults over 50 years
  • Continue vaccinating Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • Other critical and high-risk workers.
Phase 2b
  • Balance of adult population
  • Catch up any unvaccinated Australians from previous phases.
Phase 3
  • People under 18 years if recommended.
 
Frontline health care workers in phase 1a are those at the greatest risk of exposure to COVID-19.
This includes:
  • GP Respiratory Clinics
  • COVID-19 testing facilities
  • Ambulance staff
  • Paramedics
  • ICU staff
  • Emergency department staff
  • Clinical and ancillary support staff.

Other health care workers, including GPs, will be included for vaccination for phase 1b; as soon as additional doses are available.

For more information on the rollout strategy please visit:
https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/australias-covid-19-vaccine-national-roll-out-strategy

For more information please refer to the COVID-19 vaccines Stakeholder Kit 
 

What can I tell patients who ask when they will receive the COVID-19 vaccine?

To show people which phase they will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, the Australian Government has developed the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker that is available on the Department of Health website.
 
People can also find out what they can do before they get vaccinated to protect themselves and their family against COVID-19.

 

How are COVID-19 vaccines being tested?

Before a vaccine is registered for use, it is tested extensively during development and then in thousands of people. Testing first begins with laboratory research, then animal studies and finally human clinical trials.

Clinical trials involve testing the vaccine in volunteers, and are conducted in phases:
 
  • Phase 1 clinical trials usually include a few dozen healthy adult volunteers and focus primarily on assessing safety, and also on demonstrating that the vaccine induces an immune response
  • Phase 2 clinical trials have hundreds of volunteers, and can include groups for whom the new vaccine is intended, for example, older adults, children or people with pre-existing medical conditions. These trials aim to show the vaccine induces an immune response and confirm that it is safe with acceptable side effects.
  • Phase 3 clinical trials include many thousands of participants and aim to show that a vaccine has efficacy (i.e. it is effective) in preventing people from getting the disease – in this case COVID-19. Phase 3 trials also thoroughly assess the vaccine for safety and side effects. In a phase 3 trial, researchers usually compare vaccinated people with people who received a placebo (like a salt water injection). They compare the rate of disease, disease severity and reported side effects between the two groups.
For COVID-19 vaccines, some of these phases have been combined. For example, in phase 1/2 trials, results are analysed after the first few dozen volunteers are studied, then the trial proceeds in hundreds more. Also, some phase 3 studies have started once preliminary data from phase 1/2 trials are available. Having these ‘overlapping’ time frames has helped develop COVID-19 vaccines quickly and help make them available earlier to save lives.

*This FAQ taken from: https://www.ncirs.org.au/covid-19/covid-19-vaccines-frequently-asked-questions

What is the process for getting a COVID-19 vaccine approved in Australia?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), part of the Australian Government Department of Health, is the organisation responsible for approving medicines and vaccines for use in Australia. Approved products are listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. The TGA receives advice from an independent panel of experts on the Advisory Committee on Vaccines. The approval process involves a rigorous assessment of vaccine effectiveness and safety. Given the urgency of the pandemic, the TGA is prioritising COVID-19 vaccines via a faster pathway which involves the following steps:

On Monday 25 January 2021, the TGA granted provisional approval to Pfizer Australia Pty Ltd for its COVID-19 vaccine, COMIRNATY, making it the first COVID-19 vaccine to receive regulatory approval in Australia. Please read the media release here.

On Wednesday 16 February 2021, the TGA granted provisional approval to AstraZeneca Pty Ltd for its for its COVID-19 vaccine, making it the second COVID-19 vaccine to receive regulatory approval in Australia. Please read the media release here.
 
Provisional approval
The provisional approval pathway is a process that allows for temporary registration of promising new medicines and vaccines where the need for early access outweighs any potential risks. The decision to grant provisional registration is based on a number of factors, including:
  • the safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccine has been satisfactorily established for its intended use
  • the sponsor’s plan to submit comprehensive clinical data before the provisional registration ends.
After provisional approval, the TGA will continue to closely monitor any new data about the vaccine as it becomes available. Similar processes are used by regulatory authorities in other countries, such as the United States Food and Drug Authority and the European Medicines Agency.

*FAQ taken from: https://www.ncirs.org.au/covid-19/covid-19-vaccines-frequently-asked-questions
 

How will the vaccine be distributed?

The Australian Government is currently consulting with the states and territories, and medical experts on how a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine will be distributed.

This includes setting out the roles and responsibilities of the Commonwealth and state and territory governments to implement a COVID-19 vaccine program in Australia in 2021.

The rollout program will depend on the nature and test results of the vaccines approved for use. It will also take into account current outbreaks, available public health information and advice from the experts including ATAGI. Further information on the vaccine program rollout will be provided in the coming weeks.

For more information on the roll out strategy please visit the link below:
https://www.health.gov.au/news/australias-covid-19-vaccine-national-roll-out-strategy-announced

Why are multi-dose vials being used for COVID-19 vaccines?

Multi-dose vials contain more than one dose of a vaccine in a single glass vial. They usually include 5–20 doses per vial, and each dose is then extracted and given via individual syringes. This is the most efficient way to distribute a new vaccine to the maximum number of people and is being used world-wide for all COVID-19 vaccines.

Multi-dose vials are routinely used in Australia for the tuberculosis (BCG) vaccine and were used for the 2009 pandemic influenza vaccine. Immunisation providers are trained in and follow guidelines specifically on the use of multi-dose vials when using them.

For more information please visit https://www.ncirs.org.au/sites/default/files/2020-11/COVID-19%20VACCINE%20FAQs_27%20November%202020_0.pdf

What are the likely side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines?

All vaccines can cause side effects, which are usually mild and disappear within a few days.

 Common side effects from the COVID-19 vaccines can include:

  • pain, swelling and redness at the injection site
  • muscle pain
  • chills and fever
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • joint pain
  • nausea.
 Uncommon side effects may include:
  • enlarged lymph nodes
  • feeling generally unwell
  • pain in the limb
  • insomnia
  • urticaria at the injection site.

How do I report an adverse event following a COVID-19 vaccination?

In Western Australia, healthcare providers who become aware of an adverse event following immunisation (AEFI) have a statutory responsibility to notify WA Health within 72 hours of diagnosis.
 
You should report:
  • any significant event following immunisation
  • any vaccine reaction which requires assessment by a doctor or nurse
  • any reaction which has affected a family’s confidence in future immunisation.
 
Common expected reactions following immunisation do not need to be reported, such as mild fever, redness or swelling at the injection site.
 
To report an AEFI, visit the SAFEVAC website and register or log in. The Western Australian Vaccine Safety Surveillance (WAVSS) clinical team will assess the reported AEFI and may contact you or the patient directly if further details are required. The patient may be referred to a specialist clinic for review or supervision for future vaccination.
 
The COVID-19 vaccine safety surveillance information sheet should be printed out and distributed to all practice staff. For more information, visit the notification of adverse events following immunisation webpage on the WA Health website.
 

Is there an update for general practices regarding the expression of interest (EOI) to participate in Phase 1b of the National COVID-19 vaccination rollout?

Practices who submitted an expression of interest (EOI) to participate in Phase 1b of the national COVID-19 vaccination rollout should have now received notification via Practice Assist regarding the outcome.*

We have been made aware of a small number of technical issues which may have resulted in a delay in the delivery of this information. We apologise for this inconvenience. If you have not received an email regarding the outcome of your EOI, please contact practiceassist@wapha.org.au

With the imminent rollout, we understand you may also have questions about the timing and operational aspects of participation. Detailed information is available in the General Practice Guidance document provided to eligible practices. The Commonwealth will provide updates to this document as further information becomes available.

*The eligibility criteria was determined by the Commonwealth and the EOIs submitted were assessed and prioritised by the Commonwealth based on adherence to set criteria, throughput and readiness.

Operational Vaccine Rollout

Preparing for vaccination

Immunisation providers should screen people before vaccination, obtain valid consent, and ensure that the correct equipment and procedures are in place before vaccination.

For more information please visit: https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/vaccination-procedures/preparing-for-vaccination
 

Can I set up a vaccination clinic (meeting all site requirements) off-site from my accredited practice (i.e. as an outreach or pop-up clinic)?

Yes; however, set up costs for these clinics will not be supported by the Australian Government Department of Health.
 

One of the site specifications is a ‘…private and sound proof space for consultation..’ Can you clarify what this means?

This specification refers to the type of room or other consultation space where a consultation would usually be conducted, and that enables a medical encounter to occur with auditory and visual privacy
 

How will the practice confirm whether a patient is considered to be a priority population (especially patients with ‘increased risk of severe COVID-19 who are not usual patients)? What proof is required?

Further detail will be provided on the tests for eligibility, including any associated record keeping required. 

This may include letters of referral for people with chronic conditions/at increased risk, letters of employment for eligible occupations etc. An eligibility checker will be available through the Department of Health website to help clinicians and consumers understand if they are part of the priority cohort at that time.
 

How will the practice confirm a patient doesn’t have contraindications or allergies that the patient isn’t aware of or forgets?

Further advice on specific contraindications to the vaccine will be available post TGA approval. These are now available for the Pfizer vaccine and can be found in the Product Information on the Therapeutic  Goods  Administration (please note – this vaccine will not be used for administration in general practice settings noting its specific storage and handling requirements and as such, this information is provided for the visibility of those who might be treating or advising those who have been vaccinated with this vaccine).

Practitioners should follow usual clinical protocols used in prescribing other treatments and vaccines to identify allergies or any other contraindications. Systems such as My Health Record and the Australian Immunisation Register can help clinicians view information such as allergies or contraindications, if this information has been entered by other health care providers.
 

Does receiving one COVID-19 vaccine make you ineligible to receive a further COVID-19 vaccine? (i.e. – if you have received 2 doses of the Pfizer vaccine, can you be vaccinated with the Astra Zeneca vaccine?)

The vaccine rollout is focused on ensuring all Australians are vaccinated against COVID-19 in 2021. In order to be fully vaccinated, an individual must have two doses of the same vaccine, given at the appropriate dosing schedule. In the longer term, the ability to receive further vaccinations will be subject to ongoing clinical indicators and safety advice.
 

COVID-19 - National Booking System

The National Booking System will provide one front door where people can check their eligibility and find out where to get a vaccine, with links to call clinics or book online (this includes GPs, pharmacists, state-run clinics etc.).

The NBS will include:
  • An eligibility checker that the public, clinicians and others can use to determine whether a patient is in a priority population group.
  • A listing of authorized vaccination clinics along with their opening hours, contact details, and if they have one, a link to their online booking system. This list will be the mandatory minimum for clinics to provide. It will be based on the National Health Services Directory, that is already integrated with HotDocs and HealthEngine.

Further information on the operation and parameters of the National Booking System and its role in the vaccine roll out will be available on its own FAQ.

Are there any guidelines on advertising of COVID-19 vaccines for practices to use for the general public?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued guidelines for practices who wish to advertise COVID-19 vaccines.

The advertising of prescription medicines (including vaccines) to consumers is generally prohibited in Australia. However, the use of specific promotional materials to advertise COVID-19 vaccines has been authorised to support the rollout of the vaccines across Australia.

Practices are only permitted to use Australian and/or State Government produced materials to promote COVID-19 vaccines that provide factual information to assist the public in obtaining the vaccine such as:
  • The location of the COVID-19 vaccination service
  • Times vaccines are administered or opening hours of the service provider
  • Whether there is a need for an appointment to receive the vaccination and how to make one.
Practices are not permitted to use self-developed advertising about COVID-19 vaccines.

The Australian Government materials on COVID-19 vaccines are available from: See the full advice from the TGA here

Useful links and resources

Testing & Clinical Information

How can I access information on all aspects of clinical assessment, testing and management, and practice management related to COVID-19?

Our HealthPathways WA website has developed detailed pathways to cover clinical, practice management and other scenarios related to COVID-19. Please refer to the  
HealthPathways COVID-19 section, or any of the individual pathways below:
   
Email healthpathways@wapha.org.au for login details if you do not already have access to HealthPathways.

Masks & Other PPE - Section 1: WA Primary Health Alliance PPE

Are masks still in short supply?


While supplies of many PPE items have improved, they are still limited.
 
We are making every effort to ensure mask orders are fulfilled as soon as possible.
 
Visit our Mask Distribution webpage for more information.
 

What kinds of masks are you distributing?

The vast majority of masks we are distributing are surgical masks to general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, pharmacies and allied health practices, based on guidelines from the Australian Government Department of Health.
 
We are also distributing N95 masks to a very small number of general practices in regional areas, who meet strict criteria. This means they are expected to undertake detailed assessments because there is no suitable facility for assessment nearby, for example an Emergency Department, COVID clinic or GP Respiratory Clinic.
 

How many surgical masks can I order if I am a general practice?

The maximum number of boxes you will be allocated each time will be based on the number of GPs providing face to face appointments at your practice.
 
Re-orders will not be accepted within five business days (Mon-Fri) of the previous request, except in exceptional circumstances. 
 
Please call Practice Assist on 1800 227 747 or email practiceassist@wapha.org.au if you require resupply in less than a week since last allocation.
 

How many surgical masks can I order if I am a pharmacy or allied health practice?

Pharmacies and allied health practices can order 1 box per pharmacy or practice, based on the Australian Government Department of Health’s Distribution of PPE through PHNS Tranche 4 guidelines.
 
Re-orders will not be accepted within five business days (Mon-Fri) of the previous request, except in exceptional circumstances. 
 
Please call Practice Assist on 1800 227 747 or email practiceassist@wapha.org.au if you require resupply in less than a week since last allocation.
 

What do we do with the surgical masks we have been allocated?

These surgical masks are intended for use by health professionals and patients, only when dealing with patients presenting with symptoms suggestive of COVID-19.

Due to the aforementioned shortage, they are not intended for wider use, such as in waiting rooms, or to be given to other patients, or sold to pharmacy customers.

Please read WA Department of Health’s Conservation of PPE Fact Sheet.

Some information sources say surgical masks are ineffective in protecting from the virus, so why are you distributing them?

According to the guidelines distributed by both the Australian Government Department of Health and WA Health, surgical masks do offer protection during routine consultations. Please refer to the links below.
 
https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-the-health-and-disability-sector/personal-protective-equipment-ppe-for-the-health-workforce-during-covid-19
 
https://ww2.health.wa.gov.au/Articles/A_E/Coronavirus
 

Who is receiving N95 masks and how should they be used?

WA Primary Health Alliance is currently distributing a limited supply of N95 masks to general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations.
 
Updated guidelines for the use of N95 masks confirm these are to be used ONLY by the health care professional caring for the very sick patient, suspected of having COVID-19 and not the patient, who should be given a surgical mask.
 
N95 masks are to be reserved for health professionals dealing with patients with uncontrollable coughing, and when undertaking aerosol generating procedures.
 
General practices are only expected to undertake detailed assessments, if there is no suitable facility for assessment nearby, for example an Emergency Department or COVID clinic.
 
As such, N95 masks are not being distributed to general practices in the metropolitan area, due to their proximity to either an Emergency Department or COVID Clinic to which they can refer a patient for a detailed assessment.
 
Read more about the eligibility guidelines, and guidance on the supply of masks from the National Medical Stockpile.
 
Surgical masks remain the appropriate mask to use when assessing patients whose symptoms are suggestive of COVID-19 and meet the case definition.
 

Why are pharmacies and allied health practices not receiving N95 masks?

Surgical masks are suitable for routine patient consultations with patients whose symptoms and epidemiological history are suggestive of COVID-19.

According to  Australian Government Department of Health guidelines, distribution of N95 respirators is limited to general practices, including Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations, who need to assess suspected COVID-19 cases because of the unavailability of nearby dedicated respiratory clinics or emergency departments (e.g. in some rural and remote communities).

Such practices need to have isolation facilities and other appropriate infrastructure, staff competent in use of PPE, and a pandemic plan. Additionally, N95 respirators should only be used with other PPE (gowns, gloves and eye protection).

How do I access other personal protective equipment such as gowns, goggles, or hand sanitiser?

PHNs have only been provided with limited supplies of surgical and N95 masks, the latter for use by general practices and Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations who do not have a suitable facility for assessment nearby, for example an Emergency Department, COVID clinic or GP Respiratory Clinic.

Other personal protective equipment we receive is strictly for use by Australian Government endorsed GP Respiratory Clinics.
We do not have any other personal protective equipment to provide to other health services and professionals at this time.
 
You may be able to access supplies via other suppliers. See Section 2 of this FAQ. 
 

How do NDIS and disability providers get masks?

Access to masks for these sets of care workers is being kept under review and may be considered as more stocks become available and if risks increase. In the interim, the best way for care workers to protect themselves and the people they are caring for is to undertake the training available at covid-19training.gov.au
 
Please send all general queries in relation to the National Medical Stockpile to Stockpile.Ops@health.gov.au
 

How do home / aged care providers get masks?

Aged care providers that require Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) must email agedcarecovidppe@health.gov.au for all requests.

All requests will be triaged by the Australian Government Department of Health with priority given to facilities, programs and workers where there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19.

The following information must be provided in your email request to the Australian Government Department of Health:

  • the facility, program or service requiring PPE
  • if you have had a confirmed case of COVID-19 at your facility, program or service
  • types and quantities of PPE required – please note, only surgical masks are available at this stage and other PPE will be provided when available
  • details of other suppliers you have attempted to source PPE stock from.

If your facility, program or service is experiencing an outbreak of influenza the above process also applies. The Department of Health will triage your request to determine priority and may be in contact with you for further information. Once approved the request for supplies will be shared with the National Incident Room who will work with your State or Territory Government to distribute the supplies.

It is important to remember that if you do not have a confirmed case of COVID-19 within your facility, program or service you should expect delays in receiving your PPE due to the increase in demand.

Masks & Other PPE - Section 2: Other Suppliers of PPE

Where else can I order PPE from?

In addition to ordering PPE from WA Primary Health Alliance, please find a number of alternative suppliers below.
 

Western Australia

AMA Medical Products are currently facilitating the purchase and distribution of PPE to out-of-hospital Western Australian health services.
 
View and order products here.
 
WA customers can use the discount code “AMAWA” to get 5% off their first order.
 
BP Medical
1300 33 55 60
https://www.bpmedical.com.au/

 

East Coast

 
EBOS Healthcare
1800 269 534
https://www.eboshealthcare.com.au/
 
Livingstone International
02 8344 7300
https://www.livingstone.com.au/
 
Sanera Medical Products
02 8894 0317
https://sanera.com.au/
 

Online

Med Shop
1300 22 44 50
https://www.teammed.com.au/
 

Prescribing

How are you preparing us for the changes to electronic prescribing from 1 June?

The Australian Government has accelerated the delivery of electronic prescriptions which will be introduced in a steady and managed approach from the end of May 2020.
 
Our primary care support team is preparing in several ways, including ensuring both general practices and pharmacies have the knowledge and systems in place to enable the next iteration of electronic prescriptions. Our team will be available to support you with these changes.
 
For more information please visit our Electronic Prescribing page.
 

How can I issue a prescription to a patient following a telehealth consultation?

Western Australia has issued an authorisation under the Public Health Act 2016 Use of digital images for supply of medicines during COVID-19 telehealth arrangements to allow pharmacists to dispense from a digital copy of a prescription. This authorisation complements the Commonwealth’s Extension to Image Based Prescription Special Arrangement.

Prescribers can issue a paper prescription during a telehealth consultation. The prescription must contain all the usual information and be signed. Prescriptions for both Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 medicines can be issued.

The prescriber can:
  • Fax a copy to the patient’s pharmacy of choice
  • Create a clear digital image of the prescription (photo or .pdf), including the eRx barcode (if applicable) and email or text the image to the patient’s pharmacy of choice.
The pharmacist can dispense the full quantity prescribed from the faxed copy or the digital image, for both Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 medicines. For prescriptions for Schedule 8 medicines, the pharmacist must still be satisfied the prescription is authentic, which may require contacting the prescriber.

The usual record keeping and labelling requirements apply.

For Schedule 4 prescriptions, the prescriber does not have to provide the original prescription to the pharmacist. The pharmacist must keep the faxed copy or digital image of the prescription for 2 years and the prescriber must keep the original prescription for the same period.

For Schedule 8 prescriptions, the prescriber must send the original paper prescription to the pharmacy. The pharmacy must receive the original paper prescription within 10 working days of it being written. The pharmacy must keep the faxed copy or the digital image until the original paper prescription is received.

If the faxed copy or digital image of the prescription includes repeats, a repeat form must be generated and attached to a hard copy of the faxed copy or digital image. Repeats must be retained in the pharmacy and cannot be returned to the patient. Retention of repeats is required for both Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 prescriptions.

Read the full Advice here.
 

Which patients can have their medication delivered to their home?

Pharmacies are able to provide one free supply per month to the vulnerable population cohort as defined below or may charge for additional deliveries or may charge for people who do not meet the criteria.
 
The criteria to be met:

Patient holds a Medicare or DVA card and are:
  • Isolating themselves at home on the advice of a medical practitioner, for confirmed COVID-19 cases; or
  • Meeting the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection after consultation with either the national COVID-19 hotline, state COVID-19 hotlines, a registered medical or nursing practitioner or COVID-19 trained health clinic triage staff; or
  • Aged over 70; or
  • Identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander and are aged over 50; or
  • People with chronic health conditions or who are immunocompromised; or
  • Parents with new babies or people who are pregnant.
  • Patient requires the delivery of at least one PBS or RPBS medication
 
Read the Prescriber fact sheet and Consumer fact sheet.

Practice & Pharmacy Support

How are you communicating with practices about COVID-19?

WA Primary Health Alliance is sending a weekly GP Update, in conjunction with WA Department of Health, Australian Medical Association (WA), Rural Health West, Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, WA General Practice Education and Training and Royal Australian College of General Practitioners WA.
 
You can subscribe to the update here.
 
Our practice support staff are in regular contact with general practices to offer advice and support, and our Practice Assist helpline has additional staffing to ensure calls are answered promptly.
 
Our Practice Assist website includes a dedicated COVID-19 section including resources, FAQs, and information on telehealth, MBS, webinars, PIP QI changes and much more.

How are you helping practices to implement telehealth?

WA Primary Health Alliance has partnered with Healthdirect Australia to support general practices in Western Australia to deliver video consulting capability in a bid to help contain the rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Find out more and register your interest here.

What are you doing to support the wellbeing of general practice?

We have launched a free GP wellness program, offering up to three free confidential counselling sessions for GPs and practice staff. Find out more here.

What training and education are you offering at this time?

We have offered a series of webinars, on topics such as familiarisation with Health Direct Video Call, but also virtual Communities of Practice to discuss topics such as infection control, mental health and future proofing your practice during COVID-19. Find out more.
 
This is in addition to the intensive support provided by our practice support team, via our Practice Assist helpline and website, and the one-on-one practice interaction by our Primary Health Liaison team.
 

What are you doing to support pharmacies and allied health practices during the COVID-19 pandemic?

We are working closely with the WA branches of Pharmacy Guild and Pharmaceutical Society of Australia and allied health peak bodies to ensure their members are heard and informed.
 
This includes sending these organisations up to date information on mask ordering and other relevant information.

You can order masks via this online order form.
 
Practice Assist acknowledges and pays respect to the Traditional Owners and Elders of this country
and recognises the significant importance of their cultural heritage, values and beliefs and how these
contribute to the positive health and wellbeing of the whole community.