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COVID-19 VACCINATION

Kotara Family Practice is now offering AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccination to all EXISTING patients of our practice. If you are interested in receiving the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccination please contact us to make an appointment. 

 

PLEASE NOTE: Your vaccination appointment is for receiving the COVID-19 vaccine. If you are NOT SURE if you want to be vaccinated please seek more information to help you make a decision BEFORE making your appointment. You can find more information below on what you need to do for your vaccination appointment or to help you make a decision about vaccination...

 

WHAT TO DO FOR YOUR VACCINATION APPOINTMENT

COVID-19 Vaccination will protect you from serious illness or even death caused by COVID-19 disease. You may still become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus and in turn pass it on to other people, even if you do not show any symptoms of COVID-19 disease. For this reason, it is very important to continue practising public health measures to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 infection. This includes: 

  • social distancing
  • hand washing
  • use of face masks when indicated
  • staying home when you are unwell, even with the mildest symptoms
  • getting a COVID-19 test and isolating until a negative result is received, for ANY symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild

The AstraZeneca vaccine requires 2 DOSES before you have optimal protection from COVID-19 disease. You will have only partial protection following your first dose. The AstraZeneca vaccines are given 12 weeks apart. You will be given an appointment for BOTH doses when you make your initial booking. 

If you have any questions about COVID-19 vaccination you can find some helpful information on the Department of Health website.

As with all vaccines, there is the potential for side effects following COVID Vaccination.

If you are unsure about the seriousness of any side effect you are experiencing the HealthDirect COVID Vaccine Side Effect Checker is a useful tool: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/covid-19-vaccine-side-effect-checker

You can also contact Health Direct on 1800 022 222 for 24-hour telephone advice or contact your GP practice during opening hours.

COMMON SIDE EFFECTS

Most side effects are MILD. They occur in around two thirds of people who are vaccinated, usually start within the first 24 hours and can last 1-2 days. The most common side effects include:

  • Pain, swelling, tenderness, redness, warmth and/or itchiness where the injection was given
  • Generally feeling unwell
  • Feeling tired or fatigued
  • Chills, fever or feeling feverish
  • Headache
  • Feeling nauseous
  • Muscle or joint aches and pains

Some people also experience:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Pain in limb
  • Dizziness
  • Decreased appetite
  • Stomach pain

Medicines containing paracetamol can be taken if you need relief from side effects like headache, pain or fever. You can also use a cold compress if you experience swelling at the injection site. 

If you are worried about any side effect please contact your practice for advice or phone HealthDirect on 1800 022 222 (24 hour advice). You can also use the HealthDirect Vaccine Side Effect Checker at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/covid-19-vaccine-side-effect-checker

SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS

For the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine the following RARE but SERIOUS reactions have been reported:

Severe Allergic Reaction (Anaphylaxis)

Severe allergic reaction following the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccination occurs in around 1 in a million people. Signs of severe allergic reaction include:

  • Rash, itching or hives on the skin
  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue or other parts of the body
  • Shortness of breath, wheezing or difficulty breathing
  • Fast heart-beat
  • Fainting, dizziness, feeling light-headed

If you experience any of these symptoms you should let us know immediately if you are still in the clinic, or go straight to your nearest Hospital Emergency Department (in an emergency call 000 for an ambulance).

A Very Rare and Unusual Clotting Condition

The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine has been linked to a rare condition involving blood clotting and low blood platelet count, which can cause blood clots in the brain or other parts of the body, such as the abdomen. The low levels of blood platelets can also cause bleeding.  The condition is rare (approximately 5 – 6 people per million) but can be extremely serious, requiring hospitalisation and possibly resulting in long-term disability or even death. The symptoms of this condition mostly start between 4 and 20 days after vaccination. People under 60 years of age are most at risk for this condition. 

Symptoms of this condition include:

  • Severe, persistent headaches that are different to your “usual” headaches and do not settle with paracetamol or other pain killers
  • Blurred vision
  • Weakness of face or limbs
  • Confusion or seizure
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Persistent abdominal pain
  • Swelling in your leg
  • Pin-prick rash or bruising NOT at the injection site that cannot be explained

If you experience any of these side effects you should seek medical assistance IMMEDIATELY - go to your nearest hospital Emergency Department or call 000 for an ambulance.

If you are unsure about your symptoms you can contact your GP practice for advice or call the HealthDirect 24-hour advice line on 1800 022 222. You can also use the HealthDirect Vaccine Side Effect Checker at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/covid-19-vaccine-side-effect-checker

If you are UNDER 60 years of age

If you are under the age of 60 years you are at a slightly higher risk of this rare blood-clotting condition. For this reason, the Australian Government, under the advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have recommended that the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine is preferable for people under 60 years of age. However, you can still choose to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine if you understand the risks and consent to vaccination. 

 

As part of the National Vaccine Safety Surveillance System (AusVax Safety) you will receive a text (SMS) message to your mobile device in the days following your vaccination, giving you the opportunity to report on any side effects you may experience. You can also report side effects directly to the TGA online at www.tga.gov.au/reporting-problems. The AusVax Safety program is an independent program - the communication you receive from them and your responses are NOT shared with our practice. Your response is collated with the responses from thousands of other people to map the experience of side effects reported within the community so that vaccine safety can be monitored. 

Other vaccinations, including the FLU VACCINATION, cannot be given within 7 days (1 week) of the COVID-19 vaccination. It will be very important to plan your timing of vaccination correctly, so that you can receive your COVID-19 vaccination and Flu vaccination with an appropriate time period between. It does not matter if you have your Flu vaccination or COVID-19 vaccination first, but there must be at least a 7-day gap between them.

On the day of your vaccination appoinment (or the day before) please complete your COVID-19 VACCINATION CONSENT FORM and bring it with you to your appointment. You can access the consent form for printing here:

COVID VACCINATION CONSENT FORM

It is very important to bring your COMPLETED Consent Form on the day to help your appointment run smoothly.

Your vaccination will be giving in your left or right DELTOID muscle (your upper arm near your shoulder). It helps to keep your arm relaxed during vaccination so the muscle is soft. For this reason, please wear a loose fitting top that you can easily remove or allows you to easily expose your upper arm and allows you to keep your arm relaxed. 

COVID-19 VACCINATION CONSENT

On the day of your vaccination appointment (or the day before) complete a COVID-19 Vaccination Consent Form and bring it with you to your appointment. You can access the Consent Form for printing here:

COVID VACCINATION CONSENT FORM

It is very important to bring your COMPLETED Consent Form on the day to help your appointment run smoothly. 

 

NEED HELP TO DECIDE?

If you are UNSURE about whether you would like to proceed with COVID-19 Vaccination here are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions that may help you decide. We encourage you to also seek information from the Department of Health or contact the Australian Government Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 020 080. 

There is evidence of a likely link between the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine and an extremely rare blood-clotting syndrome (thrombosis with thrombocytopenia - see below for more information). The condition is reported to be very rare, occuring in about 4-6 people per million, but can be very serious, requiring hospitalisation and possibly resulting in long-term disability or even death. 

As a precaution, the new recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is that use of the Pfizer Vaccine is preferred over the AstraZeneca Vaccine in adults under 60 years of age who have not already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Is the AstraZeneca Vaccine safe for people who have had blood clots in the past?

For people who are UNDER 60 years of age or who have a history of Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia, Central Venous Sinus Thrombosis, blood clots in the abdominal veins or a history of Antiphospholipid Syndrome associated with blood clots, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is preferred over the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine has not been associated with thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. 

If you have had other blood clots in the past (such as Deep Vein Thrombosis or Pulmonary Embolism), or you have risk factors for blood clots, you can still have the AstraZeneca Vaccine. There is no evidence that people who have had a past history of other types of blood clots have an increased risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome. 

The lastest advice from ATAGI can be found here:

https://www.health.gov.au/news/atagi-statement-on-revised-recommendations-on-the-use-of-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca-17-june-2021

https://www.health.gov.au/news/joint-statement-from-atagi-and-thanz-on-thrombosis-with-thrombocytopenia-syndrome-tts-and-the-use-of-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca

More information from the TGA can be found here:

https://www.tga.gov.au/media-release/astrazeneca-chadox1-s-covid-19-vaccine

More information from the Department of Health can be found here:

https://www.health.gov.au

What is Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia? Here is some information from Health Direct to help you understand this rare condition:

https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/blog/covid-19-vaccines-thrombocytopenia-and-blood-clots

Yes. The advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is that the AstraZeneca vaccine remains safe for people 60 years of age and over. This advice is based on the knowledge that the risk of developing the rare blooding-clotting syndrome is greatest in adults under 60 years of age and that the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 is greatest in people 60 years of age and over. This means that people 60 years of age and over have a much lower risk of developing the rare blood-clotting syndrome but a much higher risk of develping serious illness from COVID-19.

The latest advice from ATAGI can be found here:

https://www.health.gov.au/news/atagi-statement-on-revised-recommendations-on-the-use-of-covid-19-vaccine-astrazeneca-17-june-2021

If you are UNDER 60 years of age, the Australian government, under the advice of the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), has recommended that the PFIZER vaccine is preferred for your age group.

If you are yet to have your FIRST DOSE you can choose to have either the Pfizer vaccine or the AstraZeneca vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine is preferred and can be accessed at one of the state-run vaccination hubs (in Newcastle this is currently John Hunter Hospital) for anyone aged 40-59. You can still choose to have the AstraZeneca vaccine if you understand the associated risks and provide informed consent. 

If you have ALREADY had your first dose of AstraZeneca the current recommendation is to go ahead with your second dose of AstraZeneca as planned. Evidence from around the world suggests that the risk associated with a second dose of AstraZeneca is much lower compared with the first dose. Data from the UK, where over 15 million people have been vaccinated with both doses of AstraZeneca, suggests that the risk of TTS (Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome) following the second dose is only 1.5 people per million compared with 14.2 people per million following the first dose. The recommendation from ATAGI is that anyone of any age who has received a first dose of AstraZeneca without any serious adverse reaction should receive the second dose as planned.

When you have your vaccination it will be logged with the national vaccine safety monitoring program (AusVaxSafety) – you will receive an SMS (text) message in the days following vaccination asking you if you experienced any reaction. This data is collected from all over Australia and reported back to the TGA to track side-effects and monitor vaccine safety. Of course, if you are worried about a reaction following vaccination you should seek medical advice:

  • call your General Practice, or 
  • call the Health Direct National Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 020 080, or
  • use the Health Direct online COVID-19 Vaccine Side Effects Checker
  • present to your nearest hospital Emergency Department, or
  • in an emergency, call 000 for an ambulance.

You can also report side effects to TGA directly – www.tga.gov.au/reporting-problems.

All vaccines can cause side effects but they are usually MILD and SHORT LIVED. The most commonly reported side effects of the COVID-19 vaccines are:

  • Pain and/or redness at the injection site; 
  • Fever; 
  • Headache; 
  • Tiredness; 
  • Muscle aches and chills.

These side effects have been reported in about two thirds of people who have been vaccinated. They are usually mild and have been reported to occur within the first 24 hours following vaccination and last around 1-2 days. 

Medicines containing paracetamol can be taken to relieve side effects like pain, fever or headache. A cold compress may also be used to relieve swelling at the injection site.

The HealthDirect COVID Vaccination Side Effect Checker can be found at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/covid-19-vaccine-side-effect-checker

For more information about side effects, including SERIOUS side effects please refer to the "Common and Serious Side Effects" information above.

All Australians will have access to free COVID-19 vaccination…BUT the number of vaccines will be limited at first while manufacturers build up their supply. So, the government has a plan to roll-out the vaccines to the groups who are most at-risk first. You can find out more information about the Government’s COVID-19 Vaccine plan here: 

https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Pages/covid-vaccination-faqs.aspx

https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines/getting-vaccinated-for-covid-19/who-can-get-vaccinated-for-covid-19

NO – Buying a COVID-19 Vaccine online is not safe! The safety, quality and effectiveness of the vaccine will not be guaranteed. Your GP will ONLY vaccinate you with a vaccine supplied by the Australian Government.

With the latest advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) following evidence of a likely link between the AstraZeneca COVID-19 Vaccine and an extremely rare, but very serious, blood-clotting syndrome, the preference is for people under the age of 60 years to be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. The risk of this rare blood-clotting syndrome is greatest in this age group. 

People 60 years and over have a lower risk of developing this rare blood-clotting syndrome but a higher risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19. For this reason ATAGI has stated that the AstraZeneca vaccine remains safe in this age group and recommends continued use of the AstraZeneca vaccine for people 60 years and over. 

Currently General Practice ONLY has access to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. 

There are many labs around the world developing vaccines. Without knowing which ones were going to be ready first or be the most effective, the Australian Government placed orders on several different vaccines. The Pfizer vaccine was one of the first to be deemed safe and effective and so there has been significant demand for it around the world. It is also manufactured in Germany and the United States so it will be even harder to secure supplies.

The Astra Zeneca vaccine is highly effective and is recommended for use in people 60 years and over. The AstraZeneca vaccine can be manufactured right here in Australia, making it easier for the Government to secure stock.

Other vaccines in development around the world may also be released in Australia to help with vaccinating the population. 

It is not compulsory to have the vaccine but we do strongly encourage you to have it. It is possible that in the future people may be required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to travel or to work in certain high-risk workplaces. 

If you are unsure we encourage you to seek as much information as you can to help you decide.

If you choose not to have the COVID-19 vaccine now, you will still be able to have it later if you change your mind.

The vaccine cannot give you 100% protection from COVID-19 infection or illness… BUT, it can dramatically reduce your chance of developing serious illness or even dying from COVID-19. If you do get COVID-19 you are likely to experience a much more mild form of the illness or no symptoms at all.

The vaccines have been developed, tested and researched by scientists at the highest level all over the world. Next to social distancing, hand washing and masks they are the best thing we have to protect ourselves from serious (and deadly) COVID-19 disease. There is excellent scientific evidence to support the safety, quality and effectiveness of the COVID-19 vaccinations that will be offered to all Australians. The choice to have the vaccine is yours, but as evidence-based health professionals we strongly encourage you to have it. 

NO. The Flu and COVID-19 are completely different viruses. The Flu vaccine will not work on COVID-19 and the COVID-19 vaccine will not work on the Flu – a bit like Measles and Chicken Pox. Having a flu shot will reduce your risk of having influenza at the same time as COVID-19 infection (which can otherwise result in more serious respiratory illness). It will also help to protect others who are more vulnerable to influenza infection (like the elderly and the very young).

We strongly encourage you to have your annual Flu vaccination this year when it becomes available.

Please note though that there must be a minimum of 7 days between COVID-19 Vaccination and Flu Vaccination. It does not matter which vaccine you have first, but there must be at least 7 days between them.

It is not known yet how long the COVID-19 vaccination will last and how well it will protect against new strains of the virus. Like the flu shot – we may need to have a new vaccination each year to cover us for the different strains circulating in the community. Researchers are working hard to investigate this and will continue to develop vaccines to protect us from the virus as it changes.

Unfortunately, the current COVID-19 vaccines will not necessarily stop you from spreading the virus if you become infected. So until most people in Australia are vaccinated it is really important to continue using social distancing and hand hygiene, and even masks when in enclosed spaces like consultation rooms. The vaccine will help to protect you from developing serious illness or even dying, but we still need to protect each other from spreading the virus around, especially to those who are vulnerable or cannot be vaccinated.

It is really important to STAY HOME if you are unwell with ANY symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild, and seek testing, even if you have had the vaccine.

NO. There is no LIVE COVID-19 virus in the vaccine. You cannot develop COVID-19 from the vaccine BUT you may experience some side effects after your vaccination, just like you can when you have the flu shot.