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COVID-19 VACCINATION

Kotara Family Practice will be provided with a limited supply of COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccines as part of the Phase 1B roll-out. Patients who are eligible for vaccination in Phase 1B can contact the practice for an appointment. However, we will be prioritising our most vulnerable patients first for vaccination, so please be patient. If you are unsure if you qualify for the current Phase of vaccinations you can use the Department of Health Vaccine Eligibility Checker to see if you meet the eligibility criteria:

For people under 70 years of age with underlying medical conditions, please note that there is a detailed list of specific conditions that are included in this Phase of the roll-out - you can access this list from the Eligibility Checker.

IF YOU ARE UNABLE TO ACCESS THE ELIGIBILITY CHECKER ONLINE YOU CAN CALL HEALTH DIRECT ON 1800 020 080

If we are unable to offer you an appointment because our vaccination clinics are already full, you can use the Vaccine Eligibility Checker to find other vaccination centres in your area. 

 

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:

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 Symptom Checker at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au

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 50 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. In an emergency go to your nearest hospital Emergency Department or call 000 for an ambulance.

If you are unsure and your symptoms are more mild you can contact your practice for advice or call the HealthDirect 24-hour advice line on 1800 022 222.

If you are UNDER 50 years of age

If you are under the age of 50 years you are at higher risk of the rare blood-clotting condition. For this reason the Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine is preferable for people under 50 years. However, you can still choose to be vaccinated with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine if you understand these 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

Other vaccinations, including the FLU VACCINATION, cannot be given within 14 days (2 weeks) 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 a 2 week 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-19 VACCINATION CONSENT FORM

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

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-19 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 new 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. 

So far the majority of cases reported around the world, including in Australia, have occured in younger adults and more likely in women. However, it is not yet clear if age and sex are risk factors since in some countries the AstraZeneca vaccine was preferentially used in younger groups, including a higher proportion of younger female health care workers.

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 50 years old 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 have a history of Heparin-Induced Thrombocytopenia or Central Venous Sinus Thrombosis, 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, 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-astrazeneca-vaccine-in-response-to-new-vaccine-safety-concerns

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 what Thrombosis and Thrombocytopenia are:

Thrombosis: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/thrombosis

Thrombocytopenia: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/thrombocytopenia

Yes. The advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is that the AstraZeneca vaccine remains safe for people 50 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 50 years of age and that the risk of serious illness from COVID-19 is greatest in people 50 years of age and over. This means that people 50 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-astrazeneca-vaccine-in-response-to-new-vaccine-safety-concerns

The TGA continues to monitor the safety of vaccines after they are approved for use. All adverse reactions to vaccines MUST be reported to health authorities and are taken very seriously. For more information visit www.tga.gov.au

ATAGI (Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation) has released a statement responding to the recent identification of blood-clotting events in patients who had received the AstraZeneca vaccine. In summary, based on the European Medicines Agency (EMA) preliminary review, ATAGI confirms that the AstraZeneca vaccine is NOT associated with an increase in the overall risk of blood clots and continues to encourage the population to present for vaccination, stating that the benefit of vaccination continues to outweigh any risk of side effects. 

You can read the full statement from ATAGI here: ATAGI Statement on AstraZeneca Vaccine Following EMA Safety Review

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 Symptom Checker can be found at https://www.healthdirect.gov.au

For more information about side effects, including SERIOUS side effects please refer to the 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 50 years to be vaccinated with the Pfizer vaccine. The risk of this rare blood-clotting syndrome is greatest in this age group. 

People 50 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 50 years and over. 

General Practice ONLY has access to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. The Pfizer vaccine requires storage at extremely low temperatures (-70 degrees) and therefore cannot be managed in General Practice.

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 50 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 14 days between COVID-19 Vaccination and Flu Vaccination. It does not matter which vaccine you have first, but there must be at least 14 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.