Overview: COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Update #1
The COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine rollout is likely to commence next week starting at the Royal Hobart Hospital (RHH). This will then be followed at the Launceston General Hospital (LGH) and the North West Regional Hospital (NWRH).
The priority staff in Phase 1a (1a) of the rollout will be (in public and private settings): vaccination teams (those administering the vaccine), border staff at airports, COVID-19 testing clinic staff, quarantine hotel staff, laboratory staff who are handling COVID-19 tests, Emergency Department staff, Intensive Care Unit staff and some paramedics.
The initial rollout (1a) will use the Pfizer vaccine and will be delivered at the RHH, LGH, and NWRH (possibly the MCH – however this is yet to be confirmed). The Pfizer vaccine needs a booster at 21 days. This also will need to be the Pfizer vaccine.
Once the Astra Zeneca vaccine has TGA approval (this is not yet approved) this will also be added to the vaccine program and will allow for more widespread vaccination to rural and remote areas as it does not have the cold storage requirements as the Pfizer vaccine. This vaccine also requires a booster shot within 4-12 weeks.
The second phase 1b is likely to commence in early April 2021 and will include all remaining public and private healthcare workers. This phase will also include police, fire and emergency workers, defense personnel, community care workers, elderly over 79, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders over 55 years, and younger adults who have medical conditions that makes them vulnerable to COVID.
Phase 2a will include the remaining workforces: education, tourism etc., all adults over 50 and all remaining Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. This is likely to commence around the beginning of June 2021.
Phase 2b will include everyone over the age of 17 and is projected to be completed by 31 October 2021.
Phase 3 is not yet planned, as it will include children, but will only occur once clinical trials are complete as no trials to date have included children 16 years of age and under.
At this stage the COVID-19 vaccine is not a mandatory public health vaccine, however, it is strongly encouraged as it has proven to prevent moderate to severe illness due to COVID-19. It was acknowledged during the briefing that it is unknown whether the vaccine prevents transmission, however, trials are currently underway to determine this. At this stage health will not attempt to re-deploy any staff member who has declined the COVID-19 vaccine if they work in a high-risk area, however, the ANMF will take further advice on this and communicate it to members.
At this stage, the only known side effect of the Pfizer vaccine is mild flu-like symptoms after the second dose in 5-8% of cases, which is easily treated with Panadol. The Astra Zeneca vaccine has shown in 1% of those vaccinated mild flu-like symptoms, which has also been managed with Panadol. The Therapeutic goods administration have not excluded any groups from receiving the vaccine nor are there any allergy contraindications. The only advice at this stage is that if you have had a reaction previously to any vaccine to speak to your GP prior to being vaccinated.
For those working in aged care and disability service, the Commonwealth will be handling the vaccination program and delivery. It is unknown at this stage the timeline for this roll-out, however as soon as this information is available the ANMF will alert members.
Once the Astra Zeneca vaccine is readily available vaccination teams will be formed to deliver mass vaccinations across the State. These teams will likely include 6 nurses, 1 pharmacist, and an administrative staff member. These teams will travel but will be based in a building, rather on a mobile unit like a bus. Through the expression of interest process to assist in the vaccination program, 812 nurses have volunteered to assist and the workforces in the public and private sector are now being assessed to see which staff can be released safely without leaving any clinical area short-staffed. The initial stages of the Pfizer vaccine will be handled by the current public sector staff.
Once available, the Astra Zeneca vaccine roll-out will also be undertaken by GP clinics to assist in meeting the numbers of vaccinations required across the State.
All healthcare workers included in the 1a phase of the vaccine rollout will be provided with a time to see the vaccination teams at the RHH, LGH, and the NWRH COVID-19 vaccination clinics. The clinics themselves will be established on 3a at the RHH, in the old nuclear medicine site at the LGH, and is to be determined at the NWRH. Clinics will operate from 8am-11am, 1pm-4pm and 5pm-8pm.
From an industrial perspective, it is anticipated that staff who need to attend the COVID-19 clinic for vaccination will be able to do so in paid work time, however, the ANMF is seeking confirmation of this. Members who have had the second vaccine and experience flu-like symptoms, should not attend work and a meeting has been requested with the State Service Management Office to seek an inclusion in the public sector COVID-19 leave arrangements to include paid leave for COVID-19 vaccination-induced illness and, where possible, the ANMF will support any member in the private sector to access paid COVID-19 leave in this instance.
Both the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccines require a 2-week period either side of them prior to receiving the flu vaccine, so it is likely that the flu-vaccine also will not be mandatory, however, the ANMF will see further confirmation on this.
If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact our Member Support Team via email on firstname.lastname@example.org. Email is the preferred and fastest way of contacting the team. Alternatively, you can phone (03) 6223 6777 or 1800 001 241 if outside Hobart.
Updates correct as at 16 February 2021.
Authorised by Emily Shepherd, ANMF Tasmanian Branch Secretary