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In this issue:

  • Pneumococcal vaccine recommendations on the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
  • Should immunisation providers consider influenza revaccination in 2020?
  • Keep immunising - adapt Victorian immunisation services during COVID-19
  • Government supplied 2020 influenza vaccine is available to order
  • Meningococcal disease and vaccine eligibility
  • Tips for vaccine cold chain management
  • Hepatitis B immunisation is still important during COVID-19
  • Links to further information

Pneumococcal vaccine recommendations on the National Immunisation Program (NIP)

The recommended age for pneumococcal vaccination for non-Indigenous adults without risk conditions has been changed to 70 years from 65 years of age. The vaccine now recommended at ≥70 years of age is a single dose of Prevenar 13. This is funded under the NIP.

Prevenar 13, followed by 2 doses of Pneumovax 23, is also funded for patients with certain risk conditions.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged ≥50 years without conditions associated with an increased risk of pneumococcal disease should receive 1 dose of Prevenar 13 and 2 doses of Pneumovax 23.

There are no changes to the routine infant schedule for Prevenar 13.

National Immunisation Program schedule changes: what you need to know – the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance.

NIP Pneumococcal vaccination schedule - Clinical decision tree for vaccination providers


Should immunisation providers consider influenza revaccination in 2020?

There is not enough evidence to routinely support a second dose in the general population at this time, including the elderly and those aged ≥65 years, even if the influenza vaccine was given early in the season.

One dose of annual influenza vaccination is recommended for everyone ≥6 months of age. However, some people are recommended to receive 2 doses: children aged 6 months to <9 years receiving influenza vaccine for the first time (4 weeks apart) and people of any age receiving influenza vaccine for the first time after haematopoietic stem cell transplant or solid organ transplant ( 2 doses 4 weeks apart).

Pregnant women may be vaccinated with the next season’s influenza vaccine if it becomes available in the latter part of their pregnancy, even if they were vaccinated with the previous season’s vaccine prior to or earlier in pregnancy.

Influenza FAQs – The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance fact sheet.


Keep immunising - adapt Victorian immunisation services during COVID-19

Immunisation is an essential service to protect against vaccine preventable disease. Continue to immunise and encourage patients to attend if their vaccinations are due or overdue.

Follow the updated (11 August 2020) recommendations provided in the Victorian immunisation services fact sheet to adapt service delivery during COVID-19 to maintain a safe and effective service. All staff must wear a level 1 or type 1 surgical mask (at a minimum) while at work. This includes non-public facing staff. Staff who are directly involved in treating patients must also wear eye protection.

Report all vaccines administered to the Australian Immunisation Register.

The latest guidance on the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health workers is available on the department’s website.

Listen to the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre podcast series COVID19 Road to a vaccine.


Government supplied 2020 influenza vaccine is available to order

People eligible for free influenza vaccine:

  • Pregnant women during any stage of pregnancy
  • Children aged 6 months to less than 5 years
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged from 6 months and older
  • Adults aged 65 years and older
  • People aged 6 months and older with medical conditions which increase the risk of influenza disease complications; for example, severe asthma, lung or heart disease, low immunity or diabetes.
Order government supplied vaccines and keep immunising.

Meningococcal disease and vaccine eligibility

Download the Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre fact sheet to answer your questions about meningococcal disease and the vaccines available.

Government supplied meningococcal vaccines for eligible cohorts on the National Immunisation Program:

  • Nimenrix – meningococcal ACWY
  • Bexsero – meningococcal B

Nimenrix vaccine is scheduled for babies at 12 months of age and adolescents 15 to 19 years of age including adolescents in Year 10 of secondary school.

Bexsero vaccine is scheduled for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander infants at 2 (from 6 weeks), 4 and 12 months of age.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children aged less than 2 years should receive catch-up Bexsero vaccine. Catch-up runs for a 3-year period until 30 June 2023. The number of catch-up doses required depends on the age of commencement.

Clinical advice for vaccination providers –Meningococcal vaccination schedule from 1 July 2020


Tips for vaccine cold chain management

Staff responsible for the vaccine cold chain management should be familiar with the recommendations of the National Vaccine Storage Guidelines ‘Strive for 5’.

  • Educate new staff responsible for handling vaccines about effective vaccine management
  • Vaccines must be stored between 2°C and 8°C
  • Nominate a back-up staff member to take responsibility during leave periods
  • Policies, procedures and protocols for vaccine management are accessible and regularly reviewed
  • The data logger works and is set at 5-minute intervals, downloaded weekly to check for temperature breaches or after any temperature excursion
  • Manual temperature recording twice daily for the current, the minimum and maximum temperature
  • The fridge power point is signed - ‘Do not disconnect power supply’.

Refresh your knowledge about the cold chain management -View the Eastern Melbourne PHN webinar.


Hepatitis B immunisation is still important during COVID-19

COVID-19 has had concerning impacts on health seeking behaviour. The interruption and deferral of testing, prevention, including immunisation and treatment for hepatitis B has significant public health impacts for individuals and the community.

Comparing Medicare data from April 2019 to April 2020, shows a 32 per cent decrease in hepatitis serology tests (mostly hepatitis B and C).

Deferring immunisations for a range of diseases (including Hepatitis) during this pandemic is to be avoided because of long term health impacts.

Read more on ordering free hepatitis B vaccine for at-risk groups.

Find further information, resources and support on viral hepatitis and liver health.

As part of the Victorian Government’s commitment to reduce the impact of blood-borne viruses and sexually transmissible infections on Victorians, the Department of Health and Human Services is hosting consultations for the month of September to develop the following plans for 2021-25: HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, Sexually transmissible infections and the first dedicated Victorian plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. Have your say from 3 September.


Links

Eczema and immunisations – It’s recognised that vaccines can cause a flare of eczema symptoms, there is no causal relationship identified between eczema and immunisations in the literature – a new Melbourne Vaccine Education Centre resource.

Adverse events following HPV vaccination: 11 years of surveillance in Australia. / Phillips, Anastasia; Hickie, Megan; Totterdell, James; Brotherton, Julia; Dey, Aditi; Hill, Richard; Snelling, Tom; Macartney, Kristine. In: Vaccine, 22.07.2020.

The Vaccine Education Centre at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia answers common questions related to the development and safety of COVID-19 vaccines.

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