Vaccination FAQs

The ADA is meeting weekly with the Department of Health, the Vaccine Taskforce, and relevant industry bodies to gather current information and how it applies to the dental team. This page will be updated regularly as information becomes available.

Last updated 9 April 2021 

In response to the Government's new advice on the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, the ADA has updated our FAQs below.

We will continue advocating for all dental professionals to have access to appropriate vaccines in our regular meetings with the government and we will communicate any updates as soon as we have them.

Update on the AstraZeneca Vaccine (NEW)

The Department of Health has released a joint statement on AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine which can be accessed here.

The Department of Health have also provided the following FAQs on the AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine.

What is this side effect that everyone is talking about associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine?
There is evidence of a likely link between the AstraZeneca vaccine and an extremely rare blood clotting syndrome.

The recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is that use of Comirnaty COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer) is preferred over AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in adults under 50 years old who have not already had a first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Is the AstraZeneca vaccine safe?
The Department of Health has stated that the individual benefit-to-risk balance of vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine varies with age. This balance is based on factors including the increased risk of complications from COVID-19 with increasing age and the potential lower risk of this very rare, but serious, adverse event with increasing age. The ATAGI has recommended the AstraZeneca vaccine remains safe to be given to people aged 50 years and over.

I have had my first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, what do I do now?
If you have had your first vaccine dose without this side effect or other serious adverse effects, the Department of Health recommends you receive your second dose as planned.

What if I am worried about side effects?
If you have recently had your first vaccine dose and are experiencing any side effects that you are worried about, the Department of Health recommends you book an appointment to see your doctor.

I’m booked in for my first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, what do I do?
If you are an adult aged under 50 years, the Department of Health is advising that you should only receive a first dose of AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine where the benefit of receiving the vaccine clearly outweighs the risk in your individual circumstance. You may wish to discuss your individual benefit-to-risk balance with your doctor.

Generally, the Department of Health recommends that the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is preferred in adults aged under 50 years (if you have not already received a first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine).

Information about how to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine will be available on the Department of Health website shortly, and the ADA will continue to provide updates for dental professionals as soon as we have them.

If you are 50 years of age or older, you can still receive your AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine.

Getting the vaccine

When will I be able to get the vaccine?

The ADA lobbied to ensure the entire dental team are included within Phase 1b of the Government’s National Rollout Strategy. Pleasingly, the Department of Health has confirmed they intend to include registered dental practitioners and support staff during this phase.

We have received confirmation from the Department of Health that Phase 1b of the vaccination roll-out, which includes dental practitioners is scheduled to begin on 22 March. In the meanwhile, the government has developed a simple online tool which you can use to test your eligibility at any time - https://covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au/eligibility.
 

Is it mandatory?

The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) provides this statement on COVID-19 vaccine for registered practitioners and students. It states:

“National Boards strongly encourage all registered health practitioners and students (particularly those undertaking placements in various practice settings) to have the full COVID-19 vaccination course as scheduled unless medically contraindicated.”

The Federal Government has continued to state publicly state the vaccine will be voluntary, universal, and free and that if you choose not to have a COVID-19 vaccine your eligibility for Government payments won’t be affected.

State and Territory governments have not yet issued advice on whether they will seek to mandate vaccination for healthcare workers in specific contexts at a local government level.

Which vaccine will I get and can I choose? (UPDATED)

According to the Department of Health, It is expected that dental practitioners and staff will be eligible to receive their vaccine during Phase 1b. Which vaccine you receive will depend on when you choose to receive your vaccination and what is available to you locally at the time.

We all understand the government is facing supply and logistics challenges and although we expect Pfizer and Astra Zeneca vaccines to be the more widely available vaccines in early roll-out we also know that the government is working on securing the supply of several other vaccines.

Update on the AstraZeneca Vaccine
The Department of Health has released a joint statement on AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine which can be accessed here. Further advice the AstraZeneca vaccine can be found in the AstraZeneca Vaccine update FAQ above.

Approved COVID-19 Vaccines:
Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines have been given provisional registration by the TGA for use in Australia. As others are approved they will be listed here: https://www.tga.gov.au/covid-19-vaccine-provisional-registrations
 

Where can I get immunised?

Phase 1b of the roll out will be largely administered by registered GPs. More than 1,000 general practices, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services, and GP-led respiratory clinics will be included in the intitial rollout for Phase 1b and this number will progressively increase to more than 4,000 by the end of April.

Members can find a vaccination provider through the new national vaccination information and location service, at the COVID-19 vaccine eligibility checker.

We suggest you book an appointment with at a clinic as soon as possible as most GPs will initially have limited supplies of the vaccine.

State based COVID-19 Information:
QLD: https://www.qld.gov.au/health/conditions/health-alerts/coronavirus-covid-19/protect-yourself-others/covid-19-vaccine

NSW: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/Infectious/covid-19/vaccine/Pages/default.aspx

SA: https://www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/public+content/sa+health+internet/conditions/infectious+diseases/covid-19/vaccine/covid-19+vaccinations

TAS: https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/vaccination-information/covid-19-vaccination

NT: https://coronavirus.nt.gov.au/stay-safe/vaccinations#/how_will_i_get_the_covid19_vaccine

WA: https://www.healthywa.wa.gov.au/COVID19vaccine

VIC: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccine

Aged care dental service providers:
If you primarily deliver dental services within aged care facilities, you may be eligible to receive the vaccine as it is administered within that facility in phase 1a. We recommend practitioners reach out directly to the aged care service they work with to enquire about eligibility.
 

Can dentists administer the vaccine?

There is not currently a need for dentists or other dental practitioners to be involved in vaccination rollout.

Do I have to pay to get vaccinated?

The Department of Health has heard anecdotal reports of practices charging patients to see a doctor prior to their vaccination booking and have reitereted that vaccination providers cannot charge the public for the administion of the COVID-19 vaccine. The vaccine is free and the consult appointment for patients to receive their vaccinations is also free. Any facilties that charge patients for the administration of the COVID-19 vaccination (including booking fees) are in breach of the requirements under the program.

Patients without a Medicare card can be vaccinated for free at Commonwealth-funded GP-led Respiratory Clinics.

Eligibility

What if I visit an aged care facility or hospital?

If you primarily deliver dental services within aged care facilities, you may be eligible to receive the vaccine as it is administered within that facility in phase 1a. We recommend practitioners reach out directly to the aged care service they work with to enquire about eligibility.

What if a staff member is under 18?

The Department of Health has indicated all staff working in a dental setting will be eligible under Phase 1b. Each vaccine is assessed by the TGA and assessed for age-appropriateness, so far Pfizer/BioNTech has been provisionally approved by the TGA for individuals 16 and older and AstraZeneca for those 18 and older. 

The Department of Health has indicated that further information on under 18s vaccination will be available shortly. Current eligibility guidance can be found on the Department’s website, including the below message for practices: "If you’re under 18, you cannot currently book through the COVID-19 Vaccine Service Finder. Further information on booking a vaccination will be available soon"

When can dental students access the vaccine? What about final year students doing placement and working in clinics?

The Department of Health has advised that it is the setting and context that is the driving determinant, not job title or role, and they intend to include dental students on clinical placement in Phase 1b. Any student not on clinical placement is unlikely to be eligible in Phase 1b. You can check your eligibility here: https://covid-vaccine.healthdirect.gov.au/eligibility or through the state booking sites listed above.

Practitioners and staff with compromised immune systems or allergies

Information on the ingredients of vaccines approved for use in Australia is available in the Consumer Medicines Information leaflet on the TGA website using the search term ‘Consumer Medicines Information’. If you have any underlying health condition or allergy you should talk to your GP or individual administering the vaccine. Assessing risk for adverse reactions and outcomes is a part of the vaccination process and the immuniser will need to consider your circumstances.
 

Can someone I live with/my family access the vaccine early when I receive it?

We understand some state governments are considering providing early access to people living with those in the vaccine priority groups (1a,1b etc). We expect this will become clearer as state governments make further information available through their websites.
 
Your eligibility and that of your family members (or more likely those people living with you) will be clarified as the rollout continues. Check your state government website (above) for further information.

What if I'm pregnant, planning to become pregnant or breastfeeding?

The government has provided a decision guide for women who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy.
https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/covid-19-vaccination-covid-19-vaccination-decision-guide-for-women-who-are-pregnant-breastfeeding-or-planning-pregnancy
 

Patient management

HR Implications

The HR/IR environment concerning the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine is not yet settled and extends beyond the dental profession to all Australian businesses, employers and employees. Consultation by the Industrial Relations Minister with employers, unions, and key business groups will consider the practical application and the possibility of new legal protections associated with the vaccination process.

You will likely hear the outcomes of these decisions via mainstream media. The ADA is seeking expert HR advice to interpret and advise on the dental-specific context so you have confidence in your understanding of HR/IR implications.

Members can view the HR impilications of the vaccinations here.

Practice Policies and Records

The practice must develop and maintain regularly updated immunisation/health records for dental staff.  It is recommended that dental staff also maintain their own immunisation and screening records. Staff should be asked to declare their vaccination status for hepatitis B, influenza and other infections of relevance to the healthcare setting.

The Australian Immunisation Handbook does not ask for immunisation status to be known when healthcare workers apply for a job. Their vaccination status is required, but not their immune status.

All dental practitioners and clinical support staff are advised to have immunisations and are to be offered relevant vaccinations consistent with the current edition of The Australian Immunisation Handbook.

Dental practices should have education programmes to support their immunisation strategy, and all dental staff should be advised of the potential consequences of non-immunisation. Any staff member has the right to refuse vaccination; however, this refusal must be documented with their reason for refusal noted and signed by him/her.

Where a person’s refusal to be vaccinated arises from a medical condition, it is recommended to obtain and maintain a medical certificate to that effect.
 
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