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Updated COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance for Aged Care Service Providers

With increasing local cases of COVID-191 it is crucial Aged Care Service Providers stay informed on updates that will impact vulnerable populations, in particular those aged 75 years or older.

As age continues to be the most significant risk factor for serious illness or death in cases of COVID-19 infections, vaccination remains the most effective prevention against severe illness, hospitalisation, and death from COVID-19 for vulnerable populations. Among Australians aged 65 years or older, having a COVID-19 booster dose in the last 3 months reduced the risk of death from COVID-19 by as much as 74.9% compared to those who were unvaccinated. After 6 months, the risk is still reduced by more than 50%2.

Vaccine Guidelines Update

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has updated their advice regarding COVID-19 vaccinations. ATAGI is now recommending:

If it has been 6 months since receiving a COVID-19 vaccine or a confirmed COVID-19 infection, an additional dose:

  • is recommended for people aged 75 or older
  • should be considered for people aged 65-74 and people aged 18-64 years with severe immunocompromise, following discussion with their health care provider.

People aged 65 years and older who have not had a COVID-19 booster this year, are also recommended to get a dose.

Please note, that a booster dose is likely to be of most benefit to residents of aged care facilities.

For those that are unsure if they have had a COVID-19 infection in the last 6 months, the ATAGI recommends it is safe to get another dose.

All available vaccines continue to be effective against serious COVID-19 illness, however the ATAGI is now recommending the Monovalent Omicron XBB.1.5 vaccines for eligible individuals. For more information see Department of Health and Aged Care website.

Oral Antivirals Treatments

Oral antivirals treatments are safe and effective in reducing the severity of COVID-19 and are available to people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19, including people 70 years and older.

Aged Care Service Providers can support high risk individuals with access to oral antiviral treatment by encouraging residents to have an early discussion with their GP or nurse practitioner about whether oral antiviral is suitable for them and to help high risk individuals develop a COVID-19 plan, which includes how to access antivirals quickly if needed.

Need assistance?

The Australian Government and the Hunter New England and Central Coast Primary Health Network (HNECCPHN) remain committed to supporting the Aged Care sector to ensure everyone has access to the COVID-19 vaccine. This includes helping residential aged care homes to arrange COVID-19 vaccinations with local primary health care providers such as GPs and community pharmacists where necessary.

For more information please see:

Service Finder at healthdirect.gov.au/australian-health-services.

Call 1800 022 222

Email The HNECCPHN at vaccine@thephn.com.au

References

  1. Government of New South Wales, Department of Health. NSW Respiratory Surveillance Report - fortnight ending 18 November 2023. Available at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/Documents/respiratory-surveillance-20231118.pdf
  2. Liu B. et al (2023) ‘Effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccination against COVID-19specific and all-cause mortality in older Australians: a population based studyThe Lancet, accessed 12 October 2023

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