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COVID-19: Latest news for general practices

This page is continually being added to and updated. We encourage health professionals to also view COVID-19 for Health Professionals.

COVID-19 Statistics for our region

30 June Update

Free Flu Shot Extended to 17 July 2022

This morning NSW Health announced that the free flu shot program has been extended until 17 July 2022 for all NSW residents aged 6 months and over. GPs can use private stock and seek reimbursement for the purchase cost via a declaration of quantities administered at the end of the program, but they should continue to prioritise National Immunisation Program supplies for eligible patients. More information is available from NSW Health.

Encouraging COVID-19 Vaccination Booster Doses

So far this year there have been over 7,300 COVID-19 related deaths, compared to 44 related to flu. There is community complacency regarding COVID-19 despite rising case numbers, particularly regarding third dose and winter dose vaccination. In our region only 66% of 12+ years residents have had more than two doses and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples 12+ years, this drops to 52%. Consider recalling patients in this cohort who have only had their primary vaccination course, particularly those who are immunocompromised. We have developed a community campaign encouraging vaccination that is being circulated via print media, social media, cinema and Tonic Media within general practices. You can access our Be Your Own Health Hero campaign materials for use in your practice, or through your social media accounts, including our new campaign videos for the community.

27 June Update

Reminding Patients to Report COVID-19 Infections

As winter progresses, it is important to remind patients to report positive COVID-19 RAT results- including second COVID-19 infections. Patients who could be eligible for oral antivirals may not be accessing this treatment due to not reporting their results. The death-rate for COVID-19 is still overrepresented by comparison to deaths from influenza, so far this year there have been over 7300 COVID-19 related deaths, compared to 44 related to flu. When seeing patients, particularly those with long-term chronic health conditions, GPs are encouraged to remind them about the importance of notifying a positive COVID-19 result through Service NSW and to their GP, to ensure that they receive the appropriate medical care.

Vaccination Resources for Parents

In our region only 36% of 5-11 year olds have had their second COVID-19 vaccine dose and for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, this drops to 24%. Practices are encouraged to consider recalling patients in this age group, particularly those who are immunocompromised, to resume their suggested vaccination schedule after a COVID-19 infection.  We have developed a COVID-19 vaccination video campaign targeting parents in this cohort that is being circulated via social media, cinema and Tonic Media within general practices. Practices can also share this video via their own social media platforms. The Department of Health also has a number of resources available for this group, and their parents and guardians: 

Deputy CMO Primary Care Update

On Thursday 30 June at 11:30am a response update for GPs will be held by Professor Michael Kidd for GPs regarding the latest information on COVID-19. Professor Kidd will be joined by Dr Lucas De Toca.

20 June Update

Vaccination Grants Deadline Extended

The closing date for our Supporting Access to Vaccination for Vulnerable Groups Grants has been extended until 5:00pm Monday 27 June 2022. These grants assist general practices with COVID-19 vaccination related expenses to improve vaccination rates for vulnerable and non-Medicare eligible populations. A full list of eligible activities for these $3,000 and $5,000 grants is available on our website. Contact Kirrilee Barlow, our Program Development Officer for Primary Care Initiatives via email for more information. Grants for allied health and pharmacy are also available.

Expanded Booster Dose Eligibility

ATAGI has expanded its recommendations on the use of COVID-19 booster doses to include people aged 12-15 years who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection due to chronic health conditions. This booster should take place 3 months after their last vaccination or confirmed COVID-19 infection. ATAGI has updated the factsheet which outlines recommended doses and vaccine timing for each age and vulnerability group.

Testing for Respiratory Illness at GPRCs

Patients with respiratory symptoms can utilise GP Respiratory Clinics (GPRCs) who are able provide assessment and testing of symptomatic patients. GPRCs are able to review and manage COVID-19 positive patients with mild to moderate symptoms, and other respiratory conditions, including influenza and pneumonia. A number of LHD run testing sites are currently testing for additional respiratory illnesses this winter seasons such as RSV and Influenza A.

Vaccination Home Visit Program

A reminder that COVID-19 vaccinations are available in the home for community members who are unable to visit a vaccination site, GP or pharmacist. A list of participating general practices is available on our website.

Reminder: Free Flu Vaccine Eligibility

NSW Health is funding additional free Flu vaccines for all NSW residents aged 6 months and over from 1 June to 30 June 2022. GPs can use private stock and seek reimbursement for the purchase cost via a declaration of quantities administered at the end of the program, but they should continue to prioritise National Immunisation Program supplies for eligible patients. More information is available from NSW Health.

Important Pathways for this Winter

Deputy CMO Primary Care Update

On Thursday 23 June at 11:30am a response update for GPs will be held by Professor Michael Kidd for GPs regarding the latest information on the effects of long COVID and the role of general practice and other primary care services. Professor Kidd will be joined by Dr Lucas de Toca, Professor Alison Venn and Dr Samantha Chakraborty.

6 June Update

Supporting Access to Vaccination Grants

General practices are encouraged to apply for a Supporting Access to Vaccination for Vulnerable Groups Grant to assist with COVID-19 vaccination related expenses to improve vaccination rates for vulnerable and non-Medicare eligible populations. A full list of eligible activities for these $3,000 and $5,000 grants is available on our website. Contact Kirrilee Barlow, our Program Development Officer for Primary Care Initiatives via email for more information. Grants for allied health and pharmacy are also available. Applications close 5:00pm Monday 13 June 2022.

RACGP Antiviral and Long COVID Webinar

On Wednesday 8 June at 7:00pm the NSW Faculty of the RACGP will be joined by a panel of experts to discuss the latest topics on COVID-19 antivirals and the case management of long COVID patients. The session will be recorded and made available online the following day. Register online now.

Deputy CMO Primary Care Update

On Thursday 9 June at 11:30am a response update for GPs will be held by Professor Michael Kidd for GPs regarding the latest information on COVID-19. Professor Kidd will be joined by Dr Lucas de Toca.

31 May Update

New Grant Opportunity - Supporting Access to Vaccination for Vulnerable Groups

We are pleased to launch our Supporting Access to Vaccination for Vulnerable Groups Grants for general practices in our region. General practices are encouraged to apply for a grant to assist with COVID-19 vaccination related expenses to improve vaccination rates for vulnerable and non-Medicare eligible populations. A full list of eligible activities is available on our website. Applications close 5:00pm Monday 13 June 2022.

Visit our website to apply. Contact Kirrilee Barlow, our Program Development Officer for Primary Care Initiatives via email for more information.

Paxlovid Stock Update

The Department of Health has responded to a number of enquiries regarding the accessibility of Paxlovid through community pharmacy.

  • Community Service Obligation Distributors have arrangements in place to supply orders within 24 hours. The Commonwealth has ensured that wholesalers can return stock that has expired, and receive a refund.
  • The Department discourages private prescriptions for Lagevrio and Paxlovid, outside of PBS eligibility criteria, to preserve stock that is on the shelf of community pharmacies for those patients who meet PBS eligibility criteria.

RACGP Winter Planning Toolkit 

The RACGP has released a new Winter Planning Toolkit which is designed to assist practices in the safe management of COVID and influenza patients. The toolkit contains education and resource modules relating to infection prevention and control, workforce protection and planning, and managing the risk of cross infection. 

30 May Update

Expanded Free Flu Vaccine Eligibility

NSW Health has announced additional free Flu vaccines for all NSW residents aged 6 months and over from 1 June to 30 June 2022.

Free vaccinations will be available at both GPs and pharmacies. NSW Health has procured additional Flu vaccine supply and will monitor this closely. Patients aged 6 months and up to 5 years must see their GP, however patients aged 5 and over can access the vaccine through pharmacies as well as GPs. 

GPs can use private stock and seek reimbursement for the purchase cost via a declaration of quantities administered at the end of the program, but they should continue to prioritise National Immunisation Program supplies for eligible patients. More information is available on the NSW Health website.

Expanded Winter Dose Eligibility

ATAGI has expanded its recommendations on the use of COVID-19 winter vaccine doses for vulnerable groups to include people 16-64 years who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 infection due to chronic health conditions. This includes cancer, chronic inflammatory conditions, people with disability with significant or complex health needs and people with severe obesity. The full list of eligibility details can be found on the Department of Health WebsiteThe additional winter booster dose can be given from 4 months after their first booster dose or 3 months after a confirmed COVID-19 infection. ATAGI has updated the factsheet which outlines recommended doses and vaccine timing for each age and vulnerability group.

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