Addressing COVID-19 vaccination in your practice
COVID-19 vaccination is one factor among a range of practical COVID-19 control measures currently available to help mitigate the risk of exposure to COVID-19 in the workplace. While there are currently no public health orders requiring mandatory COVID-19 vaccination, speech pathologists who are carrying out work within high-risk workplace settings, such as disability or aged care residential facilities, should expect at a minimum to be strongly encouraged by their employer to receive the vaccine. Read the Speak Out April 2021 .
New vaccination requirements for visiting residential aged care facilities
Members working in or visiting residential aged care facilities should be aware of new restrictions that have been put in place by the Australian Government
From 17 September 2021, COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for all residential aged care workers, including allied health providers. This will apply to all people working at a residential aged care facility, including volunteers, who are responsible for:
- resident care
- support and services for residents
- maintenance and administration.
It will be a condition of working in a residential aged care facility, and workers must have at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 17 September.
Members can find out more information regarding their obligations in this space on the Australian Government Department of Health website.
WA Department Health advice on vaccinations
The WA Department of Health has provided the following advice with regard to vaccinations in Western Australia. Reference should be made to the table referred to in the correspondence from the Chief Operating Officer, COVID-19 vaccinations (see below). Registration is via the VaccinateWA booking system.
Further information on the WA vaccination program is available online.
View correspondence from the Chief Operating Officer, COVID-19 vaccinations.
SA Health advice on COVID vaccinations
Members in one of the priority groups in Phase 1a and 1b are eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Use the SA Health booking system to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Members under 50 can now book an appointment at the Wayville Vaccination Clinic at the Adelaide Showground. Members over 50, can get vaccinated now at participating GPs and Respiratory Clinics. SA Health is adding more clinics in the coming weeks, including in the north and south of Adelaide and in regional areas.
For information about an appointment, including clinic details and maps, visit the SA Health website. Visit the SA Health COVID website to stay up-to-date with the latest information.
NT Health advice regarding COVID vaccinations
NT Health is currently vaccinating those people identified in Phase 1A and Phase 1B, which includes critical workers, health care workers, emergency service workers, disability and aged care workers, and people over the age of 16 years with a medical condition. A full list of those people eligible under Phase 1A and Phase 1B is available on the Australian Government Department of Health website. The COVID-19 vaccine is free and voluntary.
Members eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as part of Phase 1A or 1B can book their appointment online through an NT Health Clinic. At this time, appointments through NT Health Clinics are only available in the townships of Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Darwin Region. NT Health is working to open community clinics in Katherine and Gove shortly.
Stay updated about NT Health vaccination clinic sites by visiting the Northern Territory COVID-19 website.
COVID-19 vaccination program – Victoria update
Healthcare workers and those over 50 are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination in Victoria.
Healthcare worker are part of Priority Group 1 identified for vaccination against COVID-19. View details about the eligibility for healthcare workers. This includes public/private and hospital/community based workers. Residential disability workers under 50 years will be vaccinated with Pfizer as part of the Commonwealth vaccination program across residential disability sites.
Further information is available from the Victorian Government’s COVID-19 website.
View Invitation to receive a COVID-19 vaccine – Information for Phase 1 healthcare workers .
View the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Guide .
COVID-19 vaccination program – ACT Government clinic (Garran Oval, Kitchener Street)
The Association has been advised that the ACT Government clinic is taking bookings for all health, aged care and disability workers under phase 1a and phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccination program. View advice on how to book an appointment and important information on the recent program update .
COVID-19 vaccinations and the workplace
Fairwork have expanded our information on COVID-19 vaccinations and the workplace. Visit COVID-19 vaccinations and the workplace for information and guidance on common questions about coronavirus vaccinations and the workplace.
Access State and Territory-based vaccine roll-out information – 14 April
Safework Australia has provided information about what COVID-19 public health rules apply in each state or territory.
COVID-19 vaccine update – South Australia – 14 April
SA Health has provided the following information relating to COVID-19 vaccine in South Australia. Plans for the vaccination clinic at Adelaide Showgrounds are progressing and it is expected that the clinic will open by the end of the month. The vaccination clinic will solely be a Pfizer clinic and will vaccinate up to 3,000 people each week from Phase 1a and 1b. More information about eligibility and bookings will be made available in the coming weeks. To find out more information about the COVID-19 vaccine roll out, visit the SA Health website.
Joint statement on COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine advice from ATAGI – 8 April
Read a joint statement from Professor Brendan Murphy, Department of Health Secretary and Professor Paul Kelly, Australian Government Chief Medical Officer.
Information on AstraZeneca vaccine in response to new vaccine safety concerns - April
The Victorian Department of Health is disseminating information about the vaccine program and the pathways to vaccination services. It has asked for the following information to be drawn to the attention of relevant speech pathologists.
View Information on AstraZeneca vaccine in response to new vaccine safety concerns .
Department of Health COVID19 Vaccination in Aged Care Update: 26 March
The Department of Health provided an update today re vaccination for aged care staff which can be accessed via this video. The roll out of the vaccination program was acknowledged as an enormous logistical undertaking, and is still under development, which is why some information is not always known / available as yet. Key points are summarised below:
1. Are speech pathologists in aged care eligible to access the COVID vaccination now?
YES. "Allied health staff who visit residents as contractors to provide services" are included in definition of staff. Staff of residential aged care and disability accommodation (along with residents) were noted as priorities within Phase 1a. It was noted that vaccination of staff has largely not occurred/ commenced as yet with plans actively underway. Calls for patience were made.
2. How will I access the COVID vaccination if I am a private practitioner working in aged care?
Arrangements for staff of aged care to access vaccinations are still under development but included:
- In the first instance, 'staff' were encouraged not to wait for roll out in RACFs, but access through GP clinics (as also eligible under 1b criteria) Note that you will be required to take some sort of evidence to prove why you meet criteria for vaccination.
- 'Pop up Hubs' in certain RACFS will be set up in April / May
- Certain RACFs will likely ultimately act as sites administering the vaccine.
It appeared it may be some months away until arrangements in RACFs are set up for vaccine administration, so access via GP was encouraged but it was also noted that there is no immediate urgency.
It is important to have both of your doses in the same location.
3. Will vaccination be mandatory to work in aged care?
It was noted that it is not yet known whether vaccination will be mandatory across a range of settings including aged care, air travel, event attendance etc.
4. Am I eligible if I provide services to older people at home i.e. CHSP or HCP services?
YES. Complete a declaration form as above, and access via GP bookings
5. Which vaccine am I likely to get? Can I choose which one?
It is most likely that the bulk of people vaccinated in the community will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. (what GP clinics, RACF pop ups will administer). There won't generally be the opportunity to choose vaccines.
6. Are there any side effects from the vaccine?
A range of "mild flu-like" symptoms were acknowledged as common side effects post vaccination and may be important to note in terms of scheduling of vaccines. Staggering timing across staff cohorts to avoid mass sick leave and ensure staff coverage, and provision of information to vulnerable older people living alone to identify where they may get support as needed were suggested considerations.
7. Will I get a vaccination certificate at the end?
A record of vaccination should be entered into your AIR (Aust Immunisation Record) which will be transferred to your My Health Record. It was recommended to download those details onto your Medicare App on your phone, to be able to subsequently have ready access to an electronic record of your vaccination status. For people who don't have access to technology, it was suggested to request the provider to print off this information for them as their evidence.
8. Should I still get a flu shot?
YES. Staff were encouraged to still get flu shots early, noting to ensure 2 weeks in between a COVID vaccine shot and flu shot.
Priority groups for COVID-19 Vaccination Program: Phase 1b
Members should view this Department of Health presentation (see slide 6) as it shows who will be vaccinated for COVID-19 under Phase 1b, based on recommendations by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation. View Department of Health presentation.
COVID-19 vaccination – Disability Provider Alert
The Department of Health has issued the next COVID-19 vaccination – Disability Provider Alert 11 March 2021. This alert is for all Department of Social Services (DSS) Disability Grant Recipients.
This provider alert along with other resources and information about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is now available from a dedicated web page for disability service providers on the Department of Health website. This page will be updated regularly.
The Department of Health will also continue to regularly update Information for people with disability about COVID-19 vaccines as more details become available.
Department of Health resources
Vaccine eligibility checker
The Department of Health has developed an online tool to assist people to understand the phased rollout. View the Vaccines Eligibility Checker.
Learn about getting vaccinated for COVID-19.
Need information about COVID-19 COVID-19 vaccines or help with the COVIDSafe app? Visit the National COVID-19 vaccine helpline.
Aged Care Staff Eligibility Factsheet
The aged care staff eligibility fact sheet provides guidance of who should be considered ‘staff’ for the purposes of phase 1a of the COVID-19 vaccination program.
Members can subscribe to Department of Health updates.
Visit the Safe Work Australia website to find work health and safety contact information in a specific jurisdiction.
Visit the Fairwork website for information about COVID vaccinations and the workplace.
Information for clients
The Department of Health has published ‘easy read’ resources that may be useful for clients:
Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination: COVID-19 vaccine overview (Easy Read)
Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination; What is it? Is it safe? (Easy Read)
Fact sheet:COVID-19 vaccination: Who will get the vaccine? (Easy Read)
Fact sheet:COVID-19 vaccination: Where can you get the vaccine? (Easy Read)
Fact sheet:COVID-19 vaccination: The Pfizer vaccine (Easy Read)
Fact sheet:COVID-19 vaccination: Getting ready for the vaccination (Easy Read)
Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination: What to expect when you have your vaccination (Easy Read)
Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination: Giving your consent (Easy Read)
Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination:– After your vaccination (Easy Read)
Fact sheet: COVID-19 vaccination: Other information (Easy Read)
COVID-19 vaccines for people with disability
The Australian Government has published information about COVID-19 vaccines for people with disability. The information covers many questions, including:
- When will I get the vaccine?
- Where can I get the vaccine?
- Vaccinations for supports workers?
The information is online. This includes a number of Auslan videos.
Share these resources as widely as possible with people with disability, their families and carers. More information is available online.
Roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine in Australia for speech pathologists
Under 'Australia's Epidemiology and COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap', priority will be given to frontline (hospital) healthcare workers, residential aged care and disability care workers, and anyone working in quarantine facilities (Phase 1a). Speech pathologists working in these settings are likely to be included in Phase 1a. Allied health professionals working in primary care and community-based services will be vaccinated as part of Phase 1b (‘other healthcare workers’) or Phase 2a (‘other critical and high risk workers’) of the rollout. The vaccine roadmap is available from the Department of Health website. The Association will pass on any further information as it becomes available.