COVID-19 & Influenza Vaccinations: Steps For Senior Australians
© Danielle Robertson Consulting Pty Ltd t/as DR Care Solutions
"Have you had your COVID vaccination?"
That's the question many senior Australians were asked over the Easter break.
While checking in with DR Care Solutions clients across the country, it has been comforting to hear that my residential care clients have had their first jab and a handful of my in-home care clients received their first jabs in the last weeks of March through their GPs.
The vaccination roll out phases
To recap from our previous blog about COVID-19 vaccination facts for seniors and persons living with a disability, the vaccination is being rolled out in phases. Phase 1a involves vaccinating frontline workers in hospitals, quarantine and the border force, residents in aged and disability care facilities, and workers in those facilities.
Roll up all Australians aged 70 years and over: phase 1b
We're now into phase 1b of the roll out. It involves vaccinating Australians aged 70 years and over, adults with an underlying medical condition or significant disability, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults 55 years and over, and other health care and high risk area workers.
The vaccine is available free of charge to all people in Australia, with or without a Medicare card.
How to access your jab
The first step to take as a senior Australian is to call your GP to ask if they are administering COVID-19 vaccinations and, if so, make an appointment to have your first jab. This may involve a wait period as GPs are waiting for vaccine supplies.
If your GP is not administering COVID-19 vaccinations, then you need to find a local medical clinic that is and make a booking. To do that, you first need to complete the easy online eligibility survey, then, assuming you're eligible, you can make a booking from there.
Which COVID-19 vaccine?
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has approved two vaccines for use in Australia, the:
- Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, and
- Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
The Federal Department of Health advises that "the vaccine you receive may depend on:
- When and where you will be vaccinated, and
- The clinical guidelines that determine who each vaccine is safe for."
Speaking with my clients, the experience to date is that:
- My residential care clients received the Pfizer jab from Federal Government health care teams visiting aged care facilities, and
- Clients living at home are receiving the AstraZeneca jab through their GP.
COVID-19 vaccination intervals
For full vaccination, two jabs are required. For the Pfizer jab, the second jab must take place within 21 days, and for AstraZeneca, within 12 weeks.
Influenza roll out - coming this month!
It remains important for all Australians to have their annual flu vaccination. Flu vaccines will be rolled out this month (April 2021) - another reason to make an appointment with your GP.
Flu jab advice
The key advice from the Federal Department of Health is as follows:
- People in phase 1a for COVID-19 vaccination should:
- Receive the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it is available to them;
- Then receive their flu vaccine.
- People in later COVID-19 vaccination phases should:
- Receive their flu vaccine as soon as it is available;
- Then receive their COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them.
- There needs to be an interval of at least 14 days between a dose of the flu vaccine and a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. This 14-day interval applies irrespective of whether the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine is administered.
- All adults aged ≥65 years will receive the flu vaccination under the National Immunisation Program free of charge. The vaccination funded by the program is the adjuvanted influenza vaccine, Fluad® Quad.
Ideally, people should receive their annual flu vaccination before the start of the flu season. Typically, the peak of the flu season in Australia is June to September.
Protection after the flu vaccination is generally expected to last throughout the year. Optimal protection occurs in the first three to four months after vaccination.
Please be aware that my comments in this blog are given as guidance only and are no substitute for professional medical advice.
For advice and assistance on how to set up the right care, support and assistance for your loved one, at the right time and in the right place, please feel free to contact me, Danielle Robertson at DR Care Solutions, for an initial discussion.
 Australian Government Department of Health: When Will I Get a COVID-19 Vaccine?
 Australian Government Department of Health: COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker & Clinic Bookings
 Australian Government Department of Health: Which COVID-19 Vaccine Will I Receive?
 Australian Government Department of Health: ATAGI Seasonal Influenza Vaccines Clinical Advice 2021