COVID-19 Vaccination Program

COVID-19

The safety of our customers and broader community remains our number one priority during the pandemic. An effective vaccination program will significantly reduce the seriousness of illness if COVID-19 is contracted, and early studies demonstrate it may also reduce transmission of the virus.

Ramsay Health Care has been working with the federal and state governments regarding the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out in Australia. A safe and effective vaccine will dramatically improve health outcomes and societal wellbeing and facilitate economic recovery.

Ramsay Pharmacy is proud to support the COVID-19 vaccination program in Australia and we have expressed our interest in being involved in administering the doses from Phase 2a, commencing in May 2021. With more than 120 accredited Pharmacist Immunisers across our hospital and community pharmacies, we are ready and available to provide this necessary service to our communities. We have extensive experience in administering vaccines; in 2020 alone, our pharmacists administered almost 17,000 doses of the seasonal influenza vaccine across Australia. All our pharmacist vaccinators will undergo the specific COVID vaccination training program to become accredited COVID vaccinators prior to the administration of any COVID-19 vaccine

Those eligible for Phase 2a vaccinations include:

  • adults aged 60-69 years;
  • adults aged 50-59 years;
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 18-54 years;
  • Other critical and high-risk workers;
  • balance of adult population;
  • catch-up any unvaccinated Australians from previous phases.

 

How the vaccine works

Source: https://www.health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines 

 

More information will be provided soon regarding how to book your COVID-19 vaccination.  For further updates visit the Department of Health’s website for more information.

 

We answer some of your important COVID-19 questions below in our FAQs:

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has provisionally approved the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for Australians aged over 16 years and the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine for Australians over the age of 18 years. People over the age of 65 will be considered on a case-by-case basis for the AstraZeneca vaccine, with consideration of age, co-morbidities and their environment. The first round of Pfizer vaccinations will begin on February 22. The AstraZeneca vaccine is expected to commence roll-out in late March. The Australian Government is seeking medical advice from an expert panel on whether Australia should secure additional vaccines e.g. the Moderna produced vaccine. 

 

The TGA considers the safety, quality and effectiveness of every ingredient in a vaccine before registering the vaccine for use in Australia. The provisional approval pathway is a process that allows for temporary registration of promising new medicines and vaccines where the need for early access outweighs the risks. The TGA carefully assess the results of clinical trials and the way in which the trials were conducted. As a further check, the TGA laboratories assess the quality of every batch of a vaccine before it can be supplied in Australia. The TGA works closely with international regulators to collaborate and share information as part of the evaluations process.

 

Neither of these vaccines have been created using live viruses. Pfizer/BioNtech The Pfizer vaccine is a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. This is a different way of developing vaccines, conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of the virus, but mRNAs use only the virus’s genetic code. When injected, the body responds by creating antigens. These antigens are recognised by the immune system and prepare it to fight coronavirus. Recipients will need two doses at least 21 days apart. mRNA vaccines must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures (between -70° Celsius and -80° Celsius at all times) and need special requirements for transportation. The Pfizer vaccine is being manufactured in the United States, Belgium and Germany. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine developed by the University of Oxford and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is not an mRNA vaccine, instead it uses a weakened version of a virus that is known to be a causative factor for the common cold. The Astra Zeneca vaccine has been developed using traditional tried and tested methods which have been in place for decades. Recipients require two doses administered about 28 days apart. It can be stored and transported at normal refrigerated conditions between 2° Celsius and 8° Celsius. The AstraZeneca vaccine will be manufactured by Australian-headquartered pharmaceutical company CSL.

 

Up to 1.4 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be available in the first phase of the vaccine roll-out in Australia. The Australian Government has determined the priority for the vaccination program (click to view Australia's COVID-19 Vaccine Roll-out Strategy and COVID-19 Vaccination Policy) and identified the following populations for the first phase of the COVID-19 vaccines:

• Priority frontline health care workers

• Aged care and disability care residents

• Residential aged care and disability care workers

• Quarantine border workers

The Australian Government has decided the first groups to receive doses in Phase 1a will be frontline border and quarantine workers, as well as aged care residents and workers. This will be followed by frontline health workers (including clinical, medical students and administrative staff) most likely to be exposed to COVID-19 including:

• Frontline staff in facilities or services such as hospital emergency departments, COVID-19 and respiratory wards, Intensive Care Units and High-dependency Units

• Laboratory staff handling potentially infectious material

• Ambulance and paramedics service workers

• Workers at GP respiratory clinics

• Workers at COVID-19 testing facilities

The Phase 1a program is expected to take approximately six weeks. Other health care workers, including remaining Ramsay Health care workers, will follow in Phase 1b.

 

No, the vaccines are not interchangeable. Your second dose must be of the same vaccine. Tests have not been conducted on the efficacy of the two doses being from different vaccines.

 

Yes, everyone, even those who have had the vaccine, will still be required to practise social distancing, maintain good hand hygiene, and adhere to any other relevant local protocols.

 

Any vaccine approved for use in Australia is first rigorously assessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. It tests vaccines for safety, quality and efficacy before they can be used in Australia. Millions of people in countries around the world, including the United States and United Kingdom, have now been vaccinated with the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines. More information can be accessed here or watch this video below explaining the approval process.

 

The Australian Government have stated that they will provide all COVID-19 vaccines free of charge to all Australians.

 

Anyone aged under 16 years will not be able to receive the Pfizer vaccine. We are awaiting for further advice from the Therapeutic Goods Administration relating to other individuals, such as pregnant women. The Australian Government has provided a guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a pregnancy, details here: https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-covid-19- vaccination-decision-guide-for-women-who-are-pregnant-breastfeeding-or-planningpregnancy The vaccines have not been created using live viruses.

If you have any concerns about whether the COVID-19 vaccine is suitable for your circumstances, you should speak to your GP first.

Early trials of COVID-19 vaccines have reported mild side effects such as pain at the injection site, fever, headache or muscle aches. All these side effects were temporary. The COVID-19 vaccines have not been created with live viruses, which means it is impossible to be infected with either vaccine as a result of vaccination. If you have any concerns about whether the vaccine is suitable for your particular medical circumstances, you should speak to your GP first.

If you have any concerns about whether the vaccine is suitable for your particular medical circumstances, you should speak to your Pharmacist first. Prior to receiving the COVID-19 vaccine you will be provided within information about the COVID-19 vaccination and will have the opportunity to ask the Pharmacist Immuniser any questions.

All vaccines take some time to offer protection. It is anticipated those who have the COVID-19 vaccine will be protected after about two weeks of the first dose. Both the Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccines will require a follow-up second dose. Q: Is it true I can still get and pass on COVID-19 even after I have the vaccine? A: Any vaccine can have people who will not be protected from disease after having the vaccination, the vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing you from catching COVID-19. They create antibodies which can fight the COVID-19 infection to stop you becoming severely unwell. You may still be able to pass COVID-19 on, but the period of time of transmission would be reduced.

Any vaccine can have people who will not be protected from disease after having the vaccination, the vaccines are not 100% effective in preventing you from catching COVID-19. They create antibodies which can fight the COVID-19 infection to stop you becoming severely unwell. You may still be able to pass COVID-19 on, but the period of time of transmission would be reduced.

According to the World Health Organisation it is too early to know if COVID-19 vaccines will provide long-term protection, although many vaccines allow the body to create long-term immunity.

The COVID-19 vaccines have not been created with live viruses, which means it is impossible to be infected with either as a result of vaccination.

No, those vaccines are targeted at creating different antibodies for different viruses.

It is a legal requirement that information on everyone receiving the COVID-19 vaccine given to every person is recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

Yes, all Australians are encouraged to have their seasonal influenza vaccine in addition to the COVID-19 vaccine. The release of the seasonal influenza vaccine is yet to be confirmed. When it is available vaccination opportunities will be advised. Annual immunisation is recommended in Autumn (March-May) each year prior to the peak of the flu season which usually occurs between June and September. It is advised to get your flu vaccination when it becomes available to prevent overlap with your COVID-19 vaccine. You will need to wait at least 14 days between your flu vaccine and each dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.