ATAGI: Statement on the clinical use of zoster vaccines in older adults in Australia

There are 2 vaccines available for use within Australia to prevent the development of herpes zoster (shingles).

Zostavax is a live-attenuated vaccine and is funded on the National Immunisation Program (NIP) for immunocompetent adults aged 70 years and over.

Shingrix is a non-live vaccine. It is the preferred vaccine for those aged over 50 years due to a higher efficacy. It is currently only available for private purchase and availability is limited.

ATAGI have released a statement informing the use both vaccines. To read the statement in full please follow the link below:

ATAGI: Statement on the clinical use of zoster vaccines in older adults in Australia


MVEC Animation: Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS) explained

MVEC have created a new animation to help to explain Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS), a rare and newly identified syndrome which has been reported in people who have received adenoviral vector COVID-19 vaccines such as COVID-19 AstraZeneca and the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. This short animation helps to describe what it is, who is at risk and how TTS is diagnosed.

To view the animation and to find out more information on TTS please refer to our immunisation reference page:

MVEC: Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia


New resource: The MVEC Conversation: Vaccine Confidence

The Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre is excited to announce our latest resource The MVEC Conversation: Vaccine Confidence​. This two-part series features vaccine communication experts A/Prof Margie Danchin and Dr Jessica Kaufman and is designed to equip you with the knowledge and practical skills required to confidently address vaccine questions in the community.

Part 1 – Using both qualitative and quantitative research methods, and ​applying principles from social and behavioural science, our vaccine experts discuss findings from the COVID-19 Vaccine Preparedness Study​. We explore ​people’s intention to vaccinate and delve into ways in which people can be supported to reach this decision. 

Part 2 – We look at the ​importance of a being a ​Vaccine Champion and provide you with practical communication strategies to help build vaccine confidence and improve vaccine uptake.

To access this series, please login/register via the MVEC Education Portal.


The Conversation: Should I get my second AstraZeneca dose? Yes, it almost doubles your protection against Delta

With the most recent COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns currently going on across the country, there is pressure to speed up Australia’s COVID-19 vaccine roll out.

It is reported that over six million Australians (30% of those eligible) have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, with 3.8 million of those receiving their first dose as AstraZeneca. While the benefits of vaccination are well known, there are reports of people cancelling their appointments for dose 2 due to concerns about thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS).

Current UK data suggests that the risk of developing TTS is far lower following dose 2 AstraZeneca, with a rate of approximately 1 in 1.5 million doses.

Completing a 2 dose course of COVID-19 vaccines is important in order to reach optimal levels of protection. One dose of COVID-19 AstraZeneca offers 33% protection against the Delta strain of the virus currently circulating Sydney. This protection almost doubles to 60% once the second dose has been completed.

To read more, follow the link below:
The Conversation: Should I get my second AstraZeneca dose? Yes, it almost doubles your protection against Delta


Updated immunisation reference page: Vaccine confidence

We have recently updated our Vaccine confidence immunisation reference page to include the latest information  and resources available to help address people’s questions and concerns about vaccines.

Our page includes information on how to talk to people who have concerns about vaccines, how to tackle misinformation and how to be a vaccine champion in your workplace or community.

To view this page, please click on the following link:

MVEC: Vaccine confidence

 


The Conversation: What’s Australia’s first local Pfizer-style COVID vaccine? And when might it be in our arms? An mRNA expert explains

A research team at Monash University are working on developing Australia’s first mRNA vaccine candidate, with phase 1 trials set to begin in October or November this year.

Although the vaccine under development works by the same principles as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines by using a genetic code called RNA to spark the production of the coronavirus’s specific spike protein, there are key notable differences.

Firstly, the Monash mRNA vaccine directs cells to make a small part of the spike protein, the receptor binding domain. The receptor binding domain is the tip of the spike protein which is the part that is mutating to form new variants of COVID disease. Targeting this part of the spike protein allows variant-specific responses, for which there is a strong clinical need.

Secondly, existing vaccines are modelled on the original strain of the virus first detected in Wuhan, however, the Monash mRNA vaccine has since been changed to sequence the Beta strain – a strain which was first detected in South Africa for which vaccines created from the original variant are less effective.

This highlights the flexibility of mRNA vaccines with sequences being able to be changed and adapted to new variants that have emerged and that may emerge in the future.

Plans are underway for the vaccine to be developed locally, an important step in developing Australia’s capacity for mRNA vaccine production and the newly developing Australian RNA biotechnology sector overall.

To read more, follow the link below:
The Conversation: What’s Australia’s first local Pfizer-style COVID vaccine? And when might it be in our arms? An mRNA expert explains


Healthed Going Viral Podcast featuring A/Prof Nigel Crawford

Associate Professor Nigel Crawford is interviewed by Dr David Lim, GP and Medical Educator on Healthed Australia’s Going Viral podcast. In this podcast, Nigel discusses the clinical features of Thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) and provides an approach for diagnosing and managing it.

You can listen to the podcast here:

Healthed Australia: Going Viral Podcast Episode 157: AZ Clots – Are you missing it?

 


PHN Webinar: Primary care identification and management of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)

The PHN will be hosting a webinar for GPs on Wednesday 30 June featuring a panel of expert speakers including MVEC’s  A/Prof Nigel Crawford. The topic for the webinar is Primary care identification and management of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS) and will cover:

  • pathogenesis
  • latest incidence rates in age groups
  • incidence of different TTS clinical types
  • presentation and identification
  • GP management guidelines.

Further information and details on registration can be found via the link below:

PHN Webinar: Primary care identification and management of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS)


RACGP: Government announces new vaccine counselling MBS item number

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has announced the introduction of a newly-created MBS item in response to rising vaccine hesitancy related to widespread reporting the rare condition, thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome, following receipt of the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine. The new Medicare item, known as the Level B equivalent, will provide patients over 50 with a $38.75 rebate when receiving COVID vaccine counselling from their GP.

The introduction of this scheme will allow more time for GPs to address patient concerns and provide support in making informed decisions seen as crucial to boosting vaccination rates.

To read more, follow the link below:
RACGP: Government announces new vaccine counselling MBS item number


The New York Times: A Multibillion-Dollar Plan to End Polio, and Soon

The Global Polio Eradication Initiative has announced a $5.1 billion plan to eradicate polio globally by 2026. In August 2021, African countries were declared free of wild polio, leaving Afghanistan and Pakistan as the only remaining countries with endemic disease. Due to inadequate funding and a lack of political commitment, there has previously been limited success in trying to achieve a polio-free world. The coronavirus pandemic has added further challenges, bringing some polio vaccination programs to a halt.

The new initiative is set to focus on two key goals: integrating polio vaccination programs with other health care initiatives and focusing on areas with chronically low immunisation rates. The plan also ensures vaccine supply and outlines a communication strategy to increase vaccine acceptance. In addition to this, a new oral vaccine has been introduced and is thought to minimise the risk of vaccine-induced polio.

A key focus of the polio eradication program will be on immunising hard-to-reach communities, and training older female health workers, who are more successful in persuading caregivers to vaccinate their children. In order to reinstate polio eradication as a priority, even with competing health challenges in these cash poor countries, experts believe that programs designed to crush polio can also be used to help manage COVID-19 and other diseases.

To read more, follow the link below:
The New York Times: A Multibillion-Dollar Plan to End Polio, and Soon