Australian COVID Vaccination Policy
We are being asked if expats in Australia are able to get vaccinated when Australia starts the rounds of vaccinations.
We have put together a high-level synopsis for your information and please feel free to send this to your clients/staff to advise them of this very important information.
Making safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available to all Australians is a key priority of the Australian, State and Territory governments. This Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy (Policy) outlines the approach to providing COVID-19 vaccines in Australia.
It sets out key principles, such as that COVID-19 vaccines will be made available for free to all Australian citizens, permanent residents, and most visa-holders. Further, it outlines how COVID-19 vaccines will be accessible on a rolling basis, dependent on vaccine delivery schedules and the identification of groups for most urgent vaccination.
The COVID-19 vaccination will be free for all Medicare-eligible Australians and all visa-holders, excluding visa sub-classes 771 (Transit), 600 (Tourist stream), 651 (eVisitor) and 601 (Electronic Travel Authority).
Preliminary priority population groups
The three priority groups identified by ATAGI are:
- Those who are at increased risk of exposure and hence being infected with and transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to others at risk of severe disease or are in a setting with high transmission potential. This includes health and aged care workers; other care workers, including disability support workers; and people in other settings where the risk of virus transmission is increased, which may include quarantine workers.
- Those who have an increased risk, relative to others, of developing severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19 including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, older people and people with underlying select medical conditions.
- Those working in services critical to societal functioning including select essential services personnel and other key occupations required for societal functioning.
Vaccination sites will be agreed by the Australian Government and the States and Territories through their jurisdictional implementation plans.
There are a number of likely vaccination locations. All vaccines must be administered in accordance with the relevant legislation, best practice, and the guidelines and recommendations the Australian Immunisation Handbook. Vaccination locations must facilitate the safety of vaccines, staff, and consumers; be adequately staffed with appropriately trained personnel; have the facilities and protocols in place to ensure data is reported in an accurate and timely way; and be able to manage high volumes of vaccinations.
Locations may, over time, include:
- General practice clinics. These are currently the major site of immunisation in Australia and have well established protocols for vaccination.
- GP Respiratory Clinics (established for COVID-19 assessment and testing). With some additional training of the workforce, these could be repurposed to provide dedicated vaccination sites.
- Dedicated vaccination clinics, established by State and Territory health services (including local councils). These would need to be in a facility where appropriate post vaccination monitoring and after care can be provided (i.e. not drive through locations).
- Workplace vaccinations. Some larger corporations and high risk workplaces may establish workplace vaccination clinics in partnership with State and Territory health services or private providers.
- In-reach vaccination teams. A dedicated nurse vaccinator workforce will need to be trained up to progressively visit aged care facilities, and other in-reach services may be provided to vulnerable people or targeted populations who cannot access another vaccination location.
- Appropriate locations identified by the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health sector.
- Pharmacies. Pharmacists are licensed to varying degrees in each State and Territory to administer vaccines. They are likely to play a role in COVID-19 vaccination for some part of the population (e.g. healthy adults) at some stage, depending on the safety profile of the vaccines.
- If vaccines are licensed for children, the State and Territory school based vaccination programs could be used to achieve wide coverage of school aged children.
- To achieve wide population coverage it is likely that all or most of the above will need to be utilised over several months.