COVID vaccination – latest updates

COVID 19 Vaccination at Erskineville Doctors (This is a long post, please read through before you call us)

UPDATE 17 October 2021

Please note that the announcement on 8/10/201 from ATAGI about 3rd doses of COVID vaccines for people with immune compromise refers to a very restricted list of medical conditions (eg. undergoing cancer treatment, stem cell transplant, dialysis, taking immunosuppressive medications). See the attached link for more details – and see below. Please do not book yourself for a booster vaccine until you have discussed this with your doctor. You can email us at support@erskinevilledoctors.com.au if you would like to request an appointment.

People with the following immunocompromising conditions and therapies for which a 3rd primary dose is recommended 8/10/2021:

Medical conditions or treatments anticipated to reduce the immune response to COVID-19 vaccine (as at ):

  • Blood-related cancers, such as leukemia (current)
  • Current active treatment for cancer
  • Recipients of a solid organ transplant with immunosuppressive therapy
  • Stem-cell transplant recipients or chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy within 2 years of transplantation.
  • Anyone taking the following immunosuppressive therapies (now or at the time of dose 1 and 2):
    •  mycophenolate
    • methotrexate (>0.4 mg/kg/week)
    • leflunomide
    • azathioprine (>3mg/kg/day)
    • 6-mercaptopurine (>1.5 mg/kg/day)
    • cyclophosphamide
    • cyclosporin
    • tacrolimus
    • high dose corticosteroid treatment equivalent to >20mg/day of prednisone for ≥14 days in a month
    • abatacept
    • eculizumab
    • alemtuzumab
    • fingolimod
    • OR multiple immunosuppressants where the cumulative effect is considered to be severely immunosuppressive
  • Primary immunodeficiency conditions –  including combined immunodeficiency and syndromes, major antibody deficiency (e.g., common variable immune deficiency (CVID) or agammaglobulinemia), defects of innate immunity (including phagocytic cells), defects of immune regulation, complement deficiencies and phenocopies of primary immunodeficiencies.
  • HIV with CD4 counts <250/μL or those with a higher CD4 count unable to be established on effective anti-retroviral therapy
  • Long term renal dialysis

The general advice is to have an mRNA vaccine -either Pfizer Cominarty or Moderna Spikevax, if it’s at least 2 months since you second dose.

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AVAILABLE VACCINES

The Agency for Clinical Innovation has a good summary here, comparing the available vaccines in Australia – Pfizer Cominarty, Astra-Zeneca Vazrevia and Moderna Spikevax – as well as vacccine being used elsewere or still being trialled.

We do not have any information on:

  • when other vaccines will be available in Australia
  • when vaccines will be offered to children < 12
  • when booster doses will be offered to the general population

PLEASE NOTE – both vaccines are supplied in multi-dose vials and there are restrictions around how long we we have to use up a vial once opened or diluted. This means that in general we have to book you into to a specific times set aside for vaccination, to avoid wasting any doses. Please be considerate of this when we offer you appointment times.

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Pfizer vaccine bookings are available ONLINE for patients aged 12-59, as per Commonwealth Government eligibility criteria. We so have capacity to offer second doses if your booking at NSW Health is still several weeks away. Pfizer vaccine is given in two doses 3-6 weeks apart, where possible. 21 days is the minimum recommended.

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COVID Astra-Zeneca vaccine is still available for second doses. Please call for an appointment, as we can fit you in on a day where we have a vial open. Astra-Zeneca vaccine is given in two doses, between 4-12 weeks apart. Vaccine effectiveness improves with a longer spacing between doses, though it appears that two doses are important to optimise effectiveness against the delta strain and the advice during an outbreak is to shorten this to between 4-8 weeks.

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Moderna Spikevax has only been distributed to community pharmacies. If you need letter about your medical conditions to take to a pharmacy or other vaccination centre, please email support@erskinevilledoctors.com.au.

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If you have already had a first dose of AZ COVID vaccine, regardless of your age, the current advice is to proceed with your second dose of AZ COVID vaccine. The effectiveness of this vaccine against the Delta strain is comparable with the Pfizer vaccine (after the complete course of both vaccines). The initial guidelines are based on data that vaccine effectiveness improves as you approach 12 weeks, though ATAGI has suggested this could be done earlier during an outbreak.

If you are not a regular patient and want a COVID vaccine with us please select “Astra Zeneca COVID vaccine dose 1” of in the online booking system as your appointment type, do not select “New Patient”. As we review your medical “Pfizer dose 1” history prior to the vaccine its very important you add your medical history on the new patient form and complete the COVID vaccine consent form. Please also send a health summary from your usual GP the week before your appointment.

Please fill in the electronic COVID Vaccination consent form that is sent to you via SMS. If you have further questions or concerns you can book an earlier appointment with one of our doctors to discuss.

At the end of your first appointment, we will book you in for your second dose.

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How to get ready for vaccination at Erskineville Doctors

  • Read about the Astra-Zeneca vaccine here and here .
  • Read about the Pfizer vaccine here. More information about vaccines in children here
  • Complete the consent form that is sent to your phone. We recommend you book a separate appointment if you have more questions. If the consent form hasn’t been done in advance you’ll need to turn up about 5-10 minutes early to read and complete this.
  • Don’t plan anything important the next day – about 1 in 5 people are finding they are unwell enough to need a day off (fatigue, fever, etc) – usually after AZ dose 1 and after Pfizer dose 2. The AusVaxSafety site is displaying data collected in Australia regarding common side effects of the vaccines.
  • Wear a top that allows you to easily expose the top of your arm.

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Patient resources:

COVID-19 vaccination – Information on COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine | Australian Government Department of Health

Astra-Zeneca COVID vaccine

Pfizer COVID vaccine

Vaccine eligibility

Preparing for COVID vaccine

After your vaccine and an explainer about your level of protection

Proof of vaccination

If you are interested in more detail about potential vaccines, the NCIRS has a dedicated page here. See also the DOH website.

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Where else is the vaccine available?

Local pharmacies are administering Astra-Zeneca and Moderna vaccines.

Check the COVID VACCINE ELIGIBILITY CHECKER. You need to enter your relevant information and at the end it will give you some options for your local area.

Note that there are two separate facilities at Sydney Olympic Park:

  1.  Sydney West Vaccine Centre https://www.sydwestvac.com.au/. This is run by the GP Respiratory Clinic, and was set up in February. It is set up in a medium sized medical centre and the process will take about 30-40 minutes. Call them if you need to organised a disability parking spot. They are currently only giving Astra-Zeneca vaccine, but expect to be able to offer Pfizer vaccine to eligible patients from mid-July
  2. NSW Health Vaccination Centre https://vaccination.slhd.nsw.gov.au.

If you do get an appointment at another place and need proof of your eligibility due to chronic medical conditions, please email reception@erskinevilledoctors.com.au : Name, Date of birth, which practice you will be attending, and your permission for a health summary to be uploaded to My Health Record (if you have one). You should also read this advice about preparing for your vaccine and this fact sheet. .