Change in timing for Pfizer second dose (in Victoria)

In order for more Victorians to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, it is now recommended dose 2 of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine (Comirnaty™) is administered 6 weeks after dose 1.

Individuals who currently have their second dose of Comirnaty™ booked do not need to reschedule their appointments.

This change only applies in Victoria.

For further information refer to the link below:

Department of Health: Change in timing for Pfizer second dose


COVID-19 vaccine FAQs: women's health

We have expanded our COVID-19 vaccine FAQs to include a section specific to women's health.

To view commonly asked questions on COVID vaccines and planning pregnancy, pregnancy, breast-feeding and menstruation please please follow the link below:

MVEC: COVID-19 vaccine FAQs: women's health

 

 


Updated advice regarding capillary leak syndrome

An extremely rare relapsing-remitting condition known as capillary leak syndrome has been reported overseas following vaccination with COVID-19 AstraZeneca. The syndrome results in fluid leaking from capillaries (small blood vessels) into surrounding tissue and can lead to severe organ damage or death if left untreated.

In two of the reported cases there was a previous history of capillary leak syndrome. As triggers for relapse are not well understood, the manufacturer of COVID-19 AstraZeneca has updated the product information advising it is not recommended that the vaccine be administered to people with a history of capillary leak syndrome. Individuals with a history of capillary leak syndrome should be referred to their closest VicSIS clinic for further assessment.

For further information refer to the following link:

TGA: COVID-19 weekly safety report


MVEC eLearning: Vaccines in Pregnancy

MVEC are excited to launch the next of our eLearning packages. Our eLearning packages are designed to allow immunisation providers to consolidate and evaluate their technical skills. Targeted resources are available to assist with our eLearning and a certificate of completion will be made available upon completion of the corresponding eLearning quiz.

Vaccines in Pregnancy has been designed to provide an overview of vaccines that are recommended in pregnancy, vaccines that are contraindicated in pregnancy and the process to follow if a contraindicated vaccine is inadvertently administered during pregnancy.

You can access Vaccines in Pregnancy via our MVEC Education Portal or via the following link:

MVEC eLearning: Vaccines in Pregnancy


ABC: With their AstraZeneca supplies nearing expiration, PNG comes up with creative ways to vaccinate people

There has been a slow uptake of COVID-19 vaccines in Papua New Guinea (PNG), thought to be due to the impact of misinformation. With stocks of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines nearing their expiry date, creative initiatives have been undertaken in an effort to boost uptake.

Among these initiatives is the development of PNG’s first mobile vaccination unit, a yellow bus. The bus takes vaccines to communities enabling the locals to see the vaccination process in action.

All supplies, vaccines and emergency equipment required to vaccinate can be taken to villages in the bus, some of which don't have their own health clinics. This community led initiative enables people to seek information from health providers in an effort to overcome hesitancy and misinformation and get vaccinated.

With widespread community transmission, a focus remains on encouraging health care workers to get vaccinated, as well as eligible members of the community such as the elderly and those with comorbidities.

To read more about Papua New Guinea’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and the mobile vaccination unit please refer to the link below:

ABC: With their AstraZeneca supplies nearing expiration, PNG comes up with creative ways to vaccinate people


Talking to patients about AstraZeneca vaccine resource

The Department of Health have created a resource for health professionals to assist in talking to patients about the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

This resource details key facts about the AstraZeneca vaccine including current recommendations, effectiveness and information about the risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia (TTS).

You can access the resource via the link below:

Health.gov.au: Talking to patients about AstraZeneca vaccine


New immunisation reference page: COVID-19 vaccine delivery: workforce training and application process

Due to the volume of immunisations that need to be administered with the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, an expansion of the current immunisation workforce is required. Specific training and education is needed in order to ensure that the immunisation workforce is appropriately trained to allow each vaccine to be administered safely and effectively.

Our new reference page, COVID-19 vaccine delivery: workforce training and application process, details the frequently asked questions regarding training requirements for each member of the Victorian COVID-19 immunisation workforce.

To read more, follow the link below:

COVID-19 vaccine delivery: workforce training and application process


TGA: Wider storage and transportation conditions for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine now approved

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have approved wider storage and transportation conditions for Comirnaty™ (the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine).

Long-term storage of Comirnaty™  still requires ultra-cold temperatures of -90°C to -60°C. Unopened vials can be stored and transported at domestic freezer temperatures (-25°C to -15°C) for up to 2 weeks. Vials stored or transported at domestic freezer temperatures can be returned to ultra-cold longer term storage within the original shelf life of the product. Unopened vials can be stored for up to 5 days at temperatures of 2°C to 8°C. Once thawed, Comirnaty™ cannot be refrozen.

Once diluted, Comirnaty™ can be stored or transported at room temperatures  of up to 30°C for up to 6 hours either in vials or syringes.

The product information contains the most up-to-date storage and transport requirements.

The full TGA statement can be accessed via the link below:

TGA: Wider storage and transportation conditions for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine now approved 

 


New resource: Weighing up the potential benefits against risk of harm from COVID-19 AstraZeneca

The Australian Government Department of Health have released a document entitled ‘Weighing up the potential benefits against risk of harm from COVID-19 AstraZeneca.’ The document provides information to assist patients in making an informed decision about whether or not to be vaccinated with the COVID-19 AstraZeneca vaccine.

Whilst ATAGI advises that AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines are recommended in all adults, the Pfizer vaccine is preferred in people aged under 50 years due to the risk of the very rare side-effect thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome (TTS), which can occur following the first dose of COVID-19 AstraZeneca. This recommendation has been made based on evidence that TTS appears to be less likely in older adults.

COVID-19 AstraZeneca can be given to people aged under 50 where benefits are likely to outweigh the risks and an individual has made an informed decision based on an understanding of the risks and benefits. This document provides information on making this decision and how ATAGI measure potential benefits vs risks in different scenarios.

The full document can be accessed via the link below:


Interim statement of the COVID-19 subcommittee of the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine

The COVID-19 subcommittee of the World Health Organization (WHO) Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety (GACVS) have released an interim statement on vaccine safety on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

The subcommittee met on April 7th, 2021, and reviewed the latest information on rare cases of blood clots with thrombocytopenia from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the United Kingdom’s Medicines and other Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

They found that a causal relationship between the vaccine and cases of blood clots with thrombocytopenia is plausible (but not confirmed) and warrants further studies. They will continue to review data and note the rarity of this condition, with low numbers reported in the 200 million people who have received this vaccine globally. The subcommittee further noted that 2.86 million people have died of COVID-19 around the world and rare events such as this should be assessed in the context of the risk of death from COVID-19 and the potential for the vaccine to prevent infection and death.

The subcommittee noted mild side effects are common in the 2-3 days post vaccination, however people with severe symptoms between 4-20 days post immunisation such as shortness of breath, chest pain, leg swelling, neurological symptoms or persistent abdominal pain should seek medical attention immediately. They note active surveillance should be considered and have developed template protocols for countries to adopt.

The subcommittee will continue to monitor the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and note the importance of addressing and investigating safety concerns.

To read the full statement, please refer to the link below:

Interim statement of the COVID-19 subcommittee of the WHO Global Advisory Committee on Vaccine Safety on AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine