The University of Melbourne: Learning as we go during vaccine rollout

As Australia begins its COVID-19 vaccine rollout, preventing disease transmission and achieving herd immunity are the long-term goals. This will only become known once the vaccine has been administered in a larger population.

The following article explores our experiences with past immunisation programs and highlights the idea of modifying schedules as further information comes to light. It is recommended that in the context of COVID-19 vaccines and a global pandemic, we must use the vaccines that are available now, and then adapt the program later.

It is suggested that with Australia's current rate of disease burden, further consideration needs to be given to developing countries to ensure a vaccine is readily available and affordable for all.


The University of Melbourne: Learning as we go during vaccine rollout

The Conversation: When vaccinating 26 million Australians, expect a mistake or two. But we can minimise the risk of repeating Queensland's overdose incident

Following the inadvertent administration of a higher than recommended dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine to two aged-care residents, the following article discusses how this incident could happen and how we can aim to minimise the risk of it happening again.

Looking at data collected from clinical trials it is reassuring that this mistake is unlikely to have serious side effects. Moving forward it is suggested that supporting the education of immunisation providers, as well as enhancing the way we capture errors, will promote confidence in a COVID-19 vaccine rollout.


The Conversation: When vaccinating 26 million Australians, expect a mistake or two. But we can minimise the risk of repeating Queensland’s overdose incident 

New immunisation reference page: Pneumococcal disease and vaccines

Invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) can manifest in many different ways causing disease of varied severity. Certain individuals with specific medical conditions are considered at an increased risk of IPD and therefore are recommended to receive additional vaccines. Our new reference page discusses the different pneumococcal vaccines available and outlines the different immunisation recommendations for each patient group.



Registrations now open for the March CVU miniseries event

The next Clinical Vaccinology Update (CVU) miniseries event, COVID-19 vaccines: engagement, communication and safety, will be held virtually on Tuesday 9th March, 2021.

We are excited to welcome our panel who will be presenting on COVID-19 vaccine stakeholder engagement, participation and communication, as well as giving an update on the Victorian Specialist Immunisation Service (VicSIS) and international vaccine safety.

A full program of this free event can be found via our Events page and the link below:

CVU mini: March 9th, 2021

A recording of the February CVU mini is now available

Thank you to all who attended our recent CVU miniseries event COVID-19 Vaccines: A Victorian Landscape on February 8th 2021.

Presentation topics included COVID-19 vaccine platforms, COVID-19 vaccine safety, COVID-19 vaccine rollout in Victoria, as well as stakeholder engagement and participation.

A free recording of this event is now available via our education portal.

To access this recording please follow the link below:

CVU mini- 8th February 2021

Victorian COVID-19 e-Learning Competency

Developed in partnership with the Victorian Government Department of Health, The Victorian COVID-19 e-Learning Competency is the latest course available on the MVEC education portal. This competency forms part of the pre-requisite training requirements for Victorian emergency authorised registered health professionals to administer COVID -19 vaccines.

The aim of completing this competency is to assist health professionals to be appropriately trained and competent to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.

To access this competency please follow the link below:

MVEC Education Portal: Victorian COVID-19 eLearning Competency

TGA provisionally approves AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine

Following a thorough review process, informed by expert and independent advice from the Advisory Committee on Vaccines (ACV), the TGA has granted provisional approval for the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Provisional registration will allow COVID-19 Vaccine AstraZeneca to be administered to individuals 18 years and over for the prevention of COVID-19 disease caused by SARS-CoV-2. The 2 dose course may be administered with a 4-12 week interval, with ATAGI preferring doses separated by 12 weeks. In certain circumstances an interval of 4 weeks is acceptable.

Of note, there were no safety concerns revealed in clinical trials involving patients >65 years of age and a strong immune response was demonstrated. However due to insufficient numbers of participants infected with SARS-CoV-2 in this age group, efficacy could not be conclusively determined. As a result, the immunisation of individuals in this age group should be decided on a case-by-case basis.

Supply of this vaccine will initially be imported from overseas, with ongoing supply of vaccines to be manufactured in Australia.

To read the press release in full follow the link below:

TGA provisionally approves AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine

COVID-19 Vaccination Intent, Perceptions, and Reasons for Not Vaccinating Among Groups Prioritized for Early Vaccination

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States shows intent to receive a COVID-19 vaccination has risen to almost 50% amongst adults and priority groups, up from almost 40% several months prior. Non-intent has dropped to around 32%, with the groups with the highest levels of non-intent including young adults, females, non-Hispanic Black adults, adults who do not live in metropolitan areas and those from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.

The report highlights the key role health care workers play in addressing reasons for non-intent as they are trusted sources of information. This will be critical in promoting vaccine confidence and decreasing the spread of COVID-19 by ensuring there is equitable vaccine coverage and uptake amongst minority populations.

Read the full report below:

CDC: COVID-19 Vaccination Intent, Perceptions, and Reasons for Not Vaccinating Among Groups Prioritized for Early Vaccination — United States, September and December 2020

Patterns of COVID-19 dynamics following deployment of a broad national immunization program

A data analysis in Israel has investigated the number of new COVID-19 cases and hospitalisations following a vaccination campaign that commenced in December 2020. At the time of analysis, 80% of people aged over 60-years had been vaccinated. The data demonstrated a 49% drop in COVID-19 cases, a 36% drop in COVID-19 related hospitalisations and a 29% drop in critically ill patients compared to three weeks prior in this age group.

Read more below:

MedRxiv: Patterns of COVID-19 pandemic dynamics following deployment of a broad national immunization program

COVID vaccine offers two-thirds protection in just one jab

Positive news out of the United Kingdom with findings set to be published in the coming days demonstrating one dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine starts providing protection in as little as two weeks in younger adults, and three weeks in the elderly population. The data further demonstrates the vaccine is just as effective in people aged over 80-years as it is in people aged under 65-years.

One dose has shown to reduce symptomatic infection risk by 65% in younger adults and by 64% in people aged over 80 years, with protection rising to between 79% and 84% after two doses.

Scientists also note data regarding the AstraZeneca vaccine is showing similar levels of protection across all age groups.

The research is suggestive that people in Britain who have been vaccinated to date will have high levels of protection by the end of February, with admissions to intensive care expected to fall by up to a third by early March.

The Sun: Covid vaccine offers two-thirds protection in just ONE jab and will lead to lockdown escape