COVID-19 vaccinations – latest update

Updated 26 March 2023

COVID-19 booster vaccinations at Erskineville Doctors

If your last COVID vaccination or COVID infection was more than 6 months ago you are eligible for a COVID vaccine booster now (as long as you are over 18). This is particularly recommended for people aged 65+ or any of the high-risk categories previously identified.

Many of you will be come close to 12 months since your last vaccine, and efficacy is likely to be waning.

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How do I make an appointment for a booster dose?

We have variable supply of COVID vaccine and are generally offering it to people who attend for flu vaccines. Check the Vaccine Clinic Finder, to see if your local pharmacy has supply.

If you are eligible, your doctor may offer you a booster vaccine dose (if stock is available) at your next appointment. This can also be done at the same time as a flu vaccine. Do not book a consultation with a doctor for a COVID-19 vaccine only – you can receive a booster dose at any time from a pharmacy.

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Who should receive a booster dose?

All people aged 65 years and older and people aged 18 to 64 years who are at highest risk of severe COVID-19 illness are recommended to receive a booster dose in 2023.

Patients aged 18 to 64, who are not at higher risk of severe illness, should consider a booster dose.

More information about the Booster vaccination can be found on the NSW Health website .

General information on COVID-19 vaccinations can be found on the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care website.

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Primary course of vaccination

Novavax is available at some locations as the primary vaccination (not yet as a booster) for anyone who hasn’t yet been vaccinated. You can use the Vaccine Clinic Finder, to find and book an appointment.

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Australian Immunisation Register (AIR)

We are required to upload the details of your vaccination to the AIR at the time of administering. If you wish to opt out of the AIR you need to contact them directly.

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Patient resources

COVID-19 and children

Approved COVID-19 vaccines

Preparing for a COVID-19 vaccination

After your vaccine and an explainer about your level of protection

Proof of vaccination and how to add it to your Service NSW app

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General information about vaccination

Immunisation Coalition

Australian Academy of Science

National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance (NCIRS)

Novel coronavirus (COVID-19) update

The COVID-19 situation is evolving every day, and we continue to work out the best way to care for all our patients.   We aim to avoid the practice being a source of transmission and are using many strategies to do so.  Please read our COVID-19 page for updates 

To help keep our staff and patients safe we are asking that every patient  book a phone consultation with our doctors. This allows for an extra level of screening, so that we can be prepared for any patient coming into the practice.  You will need to be ready with your phone in a quiet place when we call, as if it were a face to face consultation. After an initial consultation your doctor might request that you come into the practice. We are taking bookings for children’s immunisations, Antenatal visits and newborn checks, as long as patients and their parents are well.

We are asking all patients to report their cold/flu symptoms and any travel history when they call. Click here for a self-assessment guide.   

If you have travelled anywhere overseas in the past 14 days OR have been in close contact with a person who has a confirmed case of COVID-19, and are concerned about cold/flu symptoms – you should quarantine yourself at home. Please DO NOT attend the practice. Phone us on 9557 2266 and we will arrange a phone consultation with one of our doctors.

If we do ask you to attend the practice please follow our advice :

. wait outside until the doctor is ready, (will will SMS/call you)

. use hand sanitiser provided

. put on a mask as you enter the practice if you have any cold/flu symptoms

If you have severe difficulty breathing, call triple zero (000) immediately and tell the call handler and the paramedics on arrival about your recent travel history. Health Direct 1800 022 222 can provide advice if you have symptoms of concern and can’t get in touch with us. Click here for a self-assessment guide.  If you have mild symptoms, you should just stay at home and follow the self-isolation guide.

NSW Health  and the Commonwealth Department of Health are providing updates and resources about the novel coronavirus

For general information on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) you can call the National Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080.

For the latest updates on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), visit the Department of Health website or WHO.

My Health Record

My Health Record is an online summary of some of your health information. Health information stored in your record can include information from you, your healthcare providers, and Medicare. It can be accessed by you through mygov.au, by any GP through their practice software, and hospital staff through their IT systems.

From 16 July 2018 the Government has decided to implement the My Health Record as an “opt-out” system, meaning that you will have a My Health Record created for you unless you decide to opt out. You will receive a letter from the Government (to the address associated with your Medicare card) in July 2018 advising you of this.

The initial period to opt out of having a My Health Record runs until 15 November. After that time you will have a My Health Record but this will not be activated until a health provider adds information. You can still choose to cancel you record after that time, so that information is not uploaded to it.

If you are interested in creating a My Health Record now you can register through the mygov.au website, or we can do it for you at the practice (an easier option).

Read more here

Flu vaccinations

Who is eligible for a Flu vaccine?  

Anyone aged 6 months and over can receive a Flu vaccine.  

Patients who are at highest risk of severe illness are eligible for a free Flu vaccine under the National Immunisation Program (NIP):

  • all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over 
  • children from 6 months to less than 5 years of age  
  • people aged 5 years and over with serious health conditions (including severe asthma, diabetes, cancer, immune disorders, obesity, kidney, heart, lung, or liver disease) 
  • pregnant people  
  • people aged 65 years and over  

All other patients, aged 5 to 64 years can receive a private Flu vaccine for the cost of $35.00 

Young children aged 6 months to less than 9 years who are receiving a Flu vaccine for the first time will require a second dose at least 4 weeks after their first.  

Flu clinics and appointments

Appointments can be made online, via the website or using the AMS Connect app.

  • Family Flu Clinic: Saturday 20 April, 9am – 12pm
  • Family Flu Clinic: Saturday 18 May, 9am – 12pm
  • Monday 22 April, 1:30pm – 3:30pm
  • Wednesday 24 April: 2:30pm – 4:30pm
  • Monday 29 April: 1:30pm – 3:30pm
  • Wednesday 1 May: 2:30pm – 4:30pm

Dr Jenny and Dr Cara will be running an Aboriginal Family Flu Clinic for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, on Saturday 4 May. Please call reception to book these appointments.

Alternatively, your GP can administer a Flu vaccine; however, these appointments will incur a fee for the consultation.  

Last updated 16 April 2024

ANZAC Day closure

The practice will be closed on ANZAC Day, Thursday 25 April 2024.

The practice will re-open on Friday 26 April 2024.

In an emergency, always call 000 or go to straight to Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) Emergency Department at Missenden Road, Camperdown.

If you require urgent, but non-life-threatening medical assistance during this period, the following services are available:

Balmain GP Casualty at 29 Booth Street, Balmain, 8am 10pm, 7 days a week or Maroubra Medicare Urgent Care Clinic at 806 Anzac Parade, Maroubra, 8am 8pm, 7 days a week

For after-hours assistance contact the National Home Doctor Service on 13 74 25, from 6pm weekdays, 12pm on Saturday and all-day Sunday and public holidays.

COVID-19 vaccination advice for 2024

People eligible for COVID-19 booster dose as of March 2024

To protect yourself from severe illness, it is important to understand when you should receive your next COVID-19 vaccine booster dose.

Please book an appointment with your GP to discuss vaccination or check your eligibility using the COVID-19 booster vaccine eligibility tool.

75 year and older

Recommended every 6 months.

65 – 74 years

Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits.

  • Recommended at least every 12 months, but can receive every six months.

18 – 64 years

Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits.

  • With severe immunocompromise: Recommended at least every 12 months, but can receive every six months.
  • Without severe immunocompromise: Can receive every 12 months.

5 – 17 years

  • With severe immunocompromise: Can receive every 12 months.
  • Without severe immunocompromise: Not recommended.

Under 5 years

  • Not recommended.

For more information please visit the Department of Health and Aged Care website.

Last updated 12 March 2024

Nicotine prescribing and vaping products 

Nicotine prescribing and vaping products 

It has been illegal to sell nicotine vapes for many years in Australia, and since 2021 it has been possible to obtain nicotine products from overseas with a prescription.

As of 1 January 2024 there have been regulatory changes that will prevent the importation of nicotine vaping products for personal use, with further changes to come in March 2024.

The changes mean that in theory, any doctor can write a prescription for nicotine liquid for use with a re-fillable vape, when the prescription is part of a management plan to quit smoking.

The guidelines stipulate that other methods of quitting should be tried first, as the longer term harms of vaping are not known. In addition, some people have acquired a vaping habit and may need assistance to reduce or quit. 

At this stage, while GPs get used to the detail of legislative changes and what products are available to be prescribed we do not have any consultations available specifically for nicotine liquid prescribing.

If you require assistance with smoking cessation and want to start the conversation please make a time to see your doctor, as there may be other methods that are suitable for you to try.  

If you are an experienced vaper, or wish to be prescribed nicotine for vaping to helps quit smoking, we suggest contacting a doctor via on of the many online services, including but not restricted to: 

Home – Medical Nicotine – Medical Nicotine Prescriptions 

Vaping & Nicotine Prescriptions Online | Authorised Doctors | Quit Clinics 

Quit Smoking | Same Day Personalised Vaping Prescription For Nicotine | QuitRx 

Online Nicotine Prescriptions Australia – Smokefree Clinic | Smokefree 

For more information and advice about vaping and vaping products, please visit the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association website.

Last updated 11 January 2024

Assigning your benefit for Telehealth consultations

Assigning your benefit for Telehealth consultations

From Monday 13th November, if your doctor elects to bulk bill your Telehealth consultation, you will be required to accept the doctors billing by assigning your benefit via secure SMS.

This acts as a record that you have provided consent for your Medicare rebate (e.g., $41.40) to be paid directly to your doctor. This is a Medicare requirement.

At the end of your Telehealth consultation, your doctor will ask for your verbal consent to bulk bill and record this in the consultation notes – they may also check your mobile number.

Once the billing has been completed, you will receive a secure SMS from our designated practice number (this is the same number we send appointment confirmations from).

To access your billing information, you will need to enter your (or your child’s) date of birth.

You will then be provided with the option to either Accept or Decline the assignment of the benefit.

It is very important that you respond to this SMS, as it ensures your doctor is paid for the services they have provided.

If you choose to decline this request, you will be required to pay a private fee for your consultation.  

If the billing information does not seem accurate, please call reception for clarification prior to making your selection.

Shingles vaccination

Shingles vaccination

There is still an extremely limited number of vaccines available.

As such, we will be prioritising the vaccination of patients who are at highest risk of illness (e.g. immunocompromised patients undergoing cancer treatment) and have not previously had any dose of a Shingles vaccine before.

Patients who have received their first dose, will be contacted by the practice to make an appointment to receive their second dose 5 months after the first.

If you would like more information about your eligibility for free Shingles vaccine, please make an appointment with your GP or call and speak to our Practice Nurse.

Last updated 21 March 2024

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From 1st November 2023, the shingles vaccine Shingrix will replace Zostavax on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for eligible people.

The Australian Government has announced that from 1st November 2023, those aged 65 years and over, First Nations Australians aged 50 years and older and immunocompromised people aged 18 years and older* will be eligible to receive the newer Shingrix vaccine for free, as a part of the National Immunisation Program.

The new eligibility criteria means more people have the opportunity to be protected from Shingles, however it is different from the advice we received form the Department of Health and Aged Care in September.

If you have recently received a private Shingrix script from your GP, and would now like to wait until after the 1st November for a free vaccination, do not have this script dispensed.

If you would like to have a Shingles vaccine, or would like more information about your eligibility please make an appointment with your GP or call and speak to our Practice Nurse.

For more information about Shingles, please visit the Health Direct website.

It’s not too late for a flu vaccine!

It’s not too late to get a flu vaccine for 2023. Cases are increasing the moment and have not yet peaked. Notifications are highest amongst children, as reported in the media. As school goes back next week this is time when kids will be more at risk of acquiring influenza.

Anyone aged 6 months and over can receive an influenza vaccine, that offers some protection against four strains of Flu. Influenza is a serious illness that can lead to hospitalisation, and in many people will result in at least a full week unwell at home. Prevention includes all of the strategies we have used to reduce risk of COVID, and flu vaccines add about 50% effectivness in reducing the risk of influenza and serious illness.

A free vaccine is available to people at highest risk of severe illness, including all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over, children from 6 months to less than 5 years of age, people with serious health conditions, pregnant women and those aged 65 years and over.

Note that children are likely to be much more unwell with influenza than they are with COVID. Kids can have a flu vaccine on the same day as their scheduled childhood vaccines.

All other people, aged 5 to 64 years can receive a Private Flu vaccine for the cost of $25.00. Pharmacies also have flu vaccines available.

If you are attending an appointment with your GP, you can ask for them to administer a fluvax during that appointment if time permits. You can also book a flu vaccine appointment with the nurse. If you are eligible for a COVID vaccine (6 months since last vaccine OR last COVID illness) and we have stock it can be administered at the same time.

More information about the Flu vaccination can be found on the NSW Health website and NCIRS.

Meningococcal vaccination

So far this year, there have been 19 cases of meningococcal disease reported in NSW. The majority of cases have been due to the Meningococcal B strain of the infection. Meningococci can cause meningitis and other invasive disease (sepsis) – these are rare but life-threatening.

Meningococci are carried in the throat,and transmitted through close contact and respiratory droplets. The most at risk groups are children under 2, and 15-19 year olds, but people at any age can be affected.

Young children

Parents of young children will be familiar with the recommendations – Meningococcal ACWY (Nimenrix) is administered in the 12 month schedule, and Meningococcal B  (Bexsero) is also recommended though not funded. Bexsero can be administered at any time with the regular scheduled newborn vaccines, and requires 2-3 vaccines (depending on age of first dose).

Teenagers

Meningococcal ACWY (Nimenrix) vaccine has been administered to Year 10 students for the past 5 years. If you didn’t attend school on the day it’s possible to have missed out. You can check your records on the Australian Immunisation Register through Medicare or My Health Record. If you have missed a dose, free catch up is available through our Practice Nurse up until age 19. Private cost is about $60-$80.

Meningococcal B vaccine (Bexsero) is also recommended for teenagers. It is not offered in schools or funded by the government. Two vaccines are required – we can provide you a prescription, or vaccines are available for $135. Discuss with your doctor or the Practice Nurse.

Given that meningococcal disease spreads through close contact vaccination is worth considering  for younger people living in share accommodation and university colleges, attending music festivals and travel.  

People of any age who want to protect themselves against Meningococcal disease with either or both vaccine can make a time to discuss with their doctor. We particularly recommend this for travel.

Further information:

NCIRS Meningococcal Vaccines

Department of Health

Medicare Safety Nets explained

A reminder (or a lesson!) about a couple of ways you are able to make some savings on your annual healthcare costs.

The Extended Medicare Safety Net can help to lower your out-of-pocket medical costs for out of hospital services.

We recommended that all patients register with Medicare as a family or couple so that your out-of-pocket costs are counted together towards the Extended Medicare Safety Net thresholds and the PBS Safety Net thresholds. You don’t have to be on the same card, but you do need to phone Medicare or fill out a form to advise them who is in your family (unfortunately this cannot be done online).

The threshold is calculated over the calendar year (1 January to 31 December) and resets on the 1st January. You can monitor your out of pocket costs on the Medicare app and see how close you are to the threshold.

If you are registered, once you, your partner and children have spent over the threshold amount, the Medicare rebate for subsequent services will increase, meaning that the Government will give you back more for any consultation, investigation or procedure under the MBS for the remainder of the calendar year.

Thresholds as of January 2024

Category Threshold Who is eligible?What counts?What do you get back?
Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN)- General$2544.30Everyone in MedicareYour out-of-pocket amount for the calendar year.80% of out-of-pocket costs or the EMSN benefits caps for out of hospital services
Extended Medicare Safety Net (EMSN) – Concessional and Family Tax Benefit Part A$811.80Concession cardholders and families eligible for Family Tax BenefitYour out-of-pocket amount for the calendar year.80% of out-of-pocket costs or the EMSN benefits caps for out of hospital services
Figures as of 1 January 2024

What does this mean for you and your family?

You see a doctor for a Standard Consultation. Before reaching the threshold, you will pay a private fee of $92.00 and receive a Medicare rebate of $41.40. Your out-of-pocket cost is $50.60.

If you have reached the threshold, you will pay a private fee of $92.00 and receive a Medicare rebate of $41.40 + 80% of the gap – a total of $81.88.

Your total out of pocket cost for that consultation is now only $10.12.

PBS Safety Net thresholds for prescription medication

The PBS Safety Net for medicines is a separate scheme. Once you or your family spend a certain amount on PBS medicine you’ll reach the PBS Safety Net threshold.

The threshold is calculated over the calendar year (1 January to 31 December) and resets on the 1st January. 

On 1 January 2024, the PBS Safety Net thresholds were updated to:

  • $262.80 for concession card holders (about 36 PBS medication scripts)
  • $1,563.50 for everyone else in Medicare (about 52 PBS medication scripts)

What does this mean for you and your family?

Before you meet the threshold, each medicine will cost up to:

  • $7.70 for concession card holders
  • $31.60 for everyone else in Medicare

If a pharmacist offers you a different brand of the same medicine, they may have different prices. If you choose a more different brand it may cost you more than the scheduled PBS price.

Once you reach the threshold, you’ll need to apply for a PBS Safety Net card to get cheaper medicines. Please speak to your pharmacist for more information.

Family Flu vaccination

Did you know?

  • In 2022 children aged 5 to 9 years had the highest rates of influenza of any age group
  • In 2022 of all influenza admissions to monitored hospitals, 55.9% were children less than 16 years old

Influenza is highly contagious illness that can lead to hospitalisation, and in many people will result in at least, a full week unwell at home. Children are likely to be much more unwell with Influenza than they are with COVID.

A Flu vaccine is the best way to protect your child from serious illness. The 2023 Flu vaccine provides about a 50% effectiveness in reducing the risk against the four dominate strains of Flu.

Children under nine years of age, receiving an influenza vaccination for the first time, require two doses of vaccine, spaced by a minimum of one month. Children who have previously had a Flu vaccine, require only one dose.

A free vaccine is available to people at highest risk of severe illness, including all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 6 months and over, children from 6 months to less than 5 years of age, people with serious health conditions, pregnant women and those aged 65 years and over.

All other people, aged 5 to 64 years can receive a Private Flu vaccine for the cost of $25.00.

Those over the age of 18 years can also receive a COVID booster dose at the same time as a Flu vaccine. If your last COVID vaccination or COVID infection was more than 6 months ago you are eligible for a COVID vaccine booster now. This is particularly recommended for people aged 65+ or any of the high-risk categories previously identified.

Many of you will be come close to 12 months since your last vaccine, and efficacy is likely to be waning.

Appointments can be made via our website or the AMS Connect app. For assistance booking appointments at another time or for large family groups, call reception on 02 9557 2266.

These Flu vaccine appointments are for vaccinations only. If you wish to discuss other medical issues, please book an appointment with a doctor. Your GP can administer a Flu vaccine; however, these appointments will incur a fee for the consultation.

More information about the Flu vaccination can be found on the NSW Health website and NCIRS.