Immunisation services in 2020

Advice for Immunisation Providers, including Councils and General Practice

The Department of Health has produced these recommendations to help councils, General Practice and other immunisation providers provide immunisation services to their community.

The threat of coronavirus (COVID-19) to public health is unprecedented. We must all take steps to minimise the risk of transmission to staff and clients attending community immunisation services.

Immunisation providers will have to consider these recommended procedures, based on current advice, when developing their operational processes based on staffing levels, venues and client numbers.

Recommendations for venues

Signage

It is recommended signage be displayed at the entrances of all sessions. Such signage should include the following information:

  • Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, <Immunisation provider> is taking measures to protect the community. It is vital their instructions are followed.
  • Only one parent/guardian should accompany a child into the session.
  • People should not attend the session if they or their child have symptoms of a respiratory infection (such as fever, or a sore throat, or a runny nose, or shortness of breath or a cough) or have returned from overseas or interstate in the past 14 days.
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitiser provided at the entrance to the reception or waiting area.
  • Consideration should be given to the translation of all signage and messaging into other key community languages.

Physical distancing

  • Immunisation providers may need to consider moving immunisation services to larger spaced community venues.
  • Immunisation providers may need to consider implementing a booking system to manage client flow and to avoid gathering people together at the same time.
  • Arrange client seating and queueing for administration so there is 1.5 metres between clients.
  • Limit the vaccine process to one adult with the child being vaccinated (unless there are extenuating circumstances).
  • Consider a separate room for clients to wait after vaccination depending on numbers at each session.
  • If many clients arrive and there is not enough seating, a staff member should be available to monitor queueing, and maintain the order and flow of clients into the administration area.
  • Sit clients 1.5 metres from administration staff desk on check in and 1.5 metres from other clients at the nurse’s table.
  • Minimise physical contact with clients and client record documents.
  • Individual providers can consider models that work best for their space and circumstances, but may include:
  • Using additional waiting areas, eg in car or an outside space before vaccination, or additional waiting rooms if available:
    • Using SMS to inform clients when immunisers are ready for them.
    • Using a staggered immunisation approach across three to four clinic rooms/spaces. Clients are placed in separate rooms for immunisation and observation period and the immuniser moves from room to room.

Vaccine preparation

Do not needle or prepare large quantities of vaccine in case of low attendance.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • PPE additional to that normally used as part of your routine immunisation service is not recommended. PPE is only necessary for healthcare workers seeing patients with symptoms consistent with coronavirus (COVID-19), where there is a much higher risk of transmission.
  • Ensure hand hygiene between each vaccination. Wash hands thoroughly at regular intervals or if visibly soiled and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser in between each client.
  • Encourage cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene at the sessions, eg use signage and if children are coughing or sneezing, ensure this is into their elbow and they wash their hands afterwards.

Environmental cleaning

  • Avoid providing toys children will share.
  • Wipe down surfaces that have come into close contact with the client between each vaccination using alcohol-based disinfectant.
  • Disinfectant product must be available at the administration and clinical area.

Immunisation checklists

Use a single page pre-immunisation checklist for each client rather than a laminated version.

Longer immunisation sessions

Consider longer immunisation sessions to implement procedures to protect staff and the community against the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Communication

Immunisation providers should ensure immunisation webpages, phone messages and venue signage is update regularly with coronavirus (COVID-19) information to ensure clients are aware of the expectations and changes that providers have made to the service.

Staff absenteeism

  • Staff must not attend an immunisation service if unwell.
  • Staff with risk factors for coronavirus (COVID-19) and/or are unwell must not be come to work until they have been assessed by a medical practitioner as being clear. This will involve having a medical assessment and a swab test for coronavirus (COVID-19), which must be negative.
  • If a member of staff is a healthcare worker and is a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19), they must not return to work until they have been assessed by a medical practitioner as fully recovered and have returned a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) virus test.
  • If there are staff shortages, immunisation providers will need to determine if an immunisation session can be undertaken safely.

Safety

Maintain patient safety as a priority, including observation during the 15-minute waiting time following immunisation.

Cancellation of community immunisation

  • Ensure signage is displayed prominently at the venue if services are cancelled.
  • Provide a website or phone contact for the next available immunisation session.
  • Providers using an appointment-based service may consider using SMS and social media to notify clients of any changes to service provision.