COVID-19 vaccination program
In Victoria, vaccines will at first be delivered at nine hospital immunisation hubs and through outreach to some workplaces, such as hotel quarantine.
The first phase of the rollout – Phase 1a – focuses on essential workers and people at an increased high risk of exposure, infection, and transmission of COVID-19, including:
- Quarantine and border workers, including all staff working in the hotel quarantine program
- Frontline at-risk health care workers, including hospital staff working in COVID-19 and suspected COVID-19 wards,
- Aged care and disability care staff
- Aged care and disability care residents.
As part of the rollout, the Victorian Government will deliver doses of COVID-19 vaccines to hotel quarantine and health hotel workers, airport and port workers, high-risk frontline health staff and public sector residential aged care staff and residents, beginning 22 February.
The Australian Government is responsible for providing the vaccine to residents and workers in private sector aged care and disability care.
The Australian Government is also responsible for purchasing the vaccine, ensuring it is safe, distribution and deciding on the priority populations.
Governments are already preparing to administer vaccines by:
- preparing safe and secure storage and distribution systems (particularly challenging for the Pfizer vaccine to be delivered through hospital immunisation hubs, as it must be stored at -70°C)
- authorising an expanded vaccination workforce
- training and supporting the workforce who will administer the vaccines
- organising and checking equipment
- activating systems for ongoing monitoring and safety reporting.
Training and workforce
Additional workforce capacity is needed due to the significant effort involved in offering vaccination to all eligible Victorians this year, and in light of the need to maintain existing programs, including flu vaccine, during the rollout.
Immunisation providers who have already undertaken routine immunisation training and who hold a current practising registration can register to be part of the surge workforce for the COVID-19 vaccine by completing an expression of interest at .
Online training modules are being developed by both the Victorian Government and the Australian Government.
All health care providers will need to complete COVID-19 vaccination training before administering a COVID-19 vaccine. Health care providers who complete the training will need to work within their existing scope of practice.
Administering the COVID-19 vaccines
The COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia require injection into muscle and are usually given into the deltoid muscle in the upper arm. This is similar to many other vaccines, including seasonal influenza vaccines.
It is very important that people receive two doses of the same brand of vaccine, with adequate spacing between doses as recommended by the manufacturer. This helps ensure the efficacy of the vaccines.
Standard pre- and post-vaccine procedures will apply, including a checklist and a minimum 15-minute observation period following vaccination. Supporting documents and information to share with vaccine recipients can be found on the .
Preparation for vaccination providers
Preparation for vaccine recipients
The Department of Health has provided resources to provide information to people who are receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
Helpful tips for recipients after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine
Recommend patients to seek medical advice about taking an over-the-counter medicine if they have pain or discomfort.
To reduce pain and discomfort at the vaccination site, patients can:
- apply a clean, cool, wet washcloth over the area
- use or exercise their arm.
To reduce discomfort from fever, advise patients to:
- drink plenty of fluids
- dress lightly.
Advise patients to call a doctor or healthcare provider if:
- the redness or tenderness at the vaccination site increases after 24 hours
- their side effects are worrying them or do not seem to be going away after a few days.
Adverse reactions after immunisation
Vaccines are designed with safety and efficacy in mind. As with all medicines, patients may experience minor symptoms following vaccination. These are expected and are related to the body’s immune response to the vaccine. Most side effects are mild and self-limiting and patients will recover without any problems.
Normal and very common reactions to vaccination include:
- pain, redness and/or swelling at site of injection
- mild fever
- muscle aches.
As the COVID-19 vaccines are given by injection into the muscle, usually in the upper arm, many people will be sore at the injection site straight away. In the hours following vaccination, some people may also have mild and temporary fever, fatigue, headache and muscle aches. This type of reaction will normally only last for 1 or 2 days at the most.
So far there have been few reports of adverse effects of the COVID-19 vaccines lasting more than one week.
Serious reactions like allergic reactions are possible but extremely rare. Advise patients to seek medical advice straight away if:
- their body reacts in an unexpected way
- they have any concerns about potential side effects of vaccines.
A person is much more likely to be seriously impacted by COVID-19 than by the vaccine.
It is recommended that people to be monitored for at least 15 minutes after receiving any vaccine, including the COVID-19 vaccine, to ensure care is given if there are any serious adverse reactions such as anaphylaxis.
The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has learned of reports that some people have experienced severe allergic reactions (also known as anaphylaxis) after getting a COVID-19 vaccine. As an example, an allergic reaction is considered severe when a person needs to be treated with epinephrine (adrenaline) or EpiPen© or if they must go to the hospital. It is recommended that individuals with a history of anaphylactic reaction to vaccines be monitored for 30 minutes after vaccination, rather than 15 minutes.
If a patient experiences fever and injection site swelling after their first dose
Common symptoms following vaccination may include injection site pain and swelling, fever, chills, tiredness, and headache. For most people, side effects last no longer than 1-2 days. A side effect is not a contraindication to a second dose.
Persons with an immediate allergic reaction to the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine should not receive additional doses of that vaccine. An immediate allergic reaction to a vaccine or medication is defined as any hypersensitivity-related signs or symptoms consistent with urticaria, angioedema, respiratory distress (e.g., wheezing, stridor), or anaphylaxis that occur within four hours following administration. Providers should attempt to determine whether reactions reported following vaccination are consistent with immediate allergic reactions versus other types of reactions commonly observed following vaccination, such as a vasovagal reaction or post-vaccination side effects (which are not contraindications to receiving the second vaccine dose).
The TGA has released guidelines to assist health care workers assess if their patient should receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccine and other vaccines
The COVID-19 vaccine should not be administered with other vaccines.
If a dose of COVID-19 vaccine is inadvertently administered within 14 days of another vaccine, doses do not need to be repeated for either vaccine.
Victorians will be encouraged to get a flu vaccine this year to protect themselves against influenza. By getting vaccinated people can help stop the spread of flu. This will help protect our health system and our most vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 vaccine roll out.
The influenza vaccine should not be administered at the same time as a COVID-19 vaccine. The influenza vaccine can be administered with a minimum time of 14 days before or after the COVID-19 vaccine.
This interim recommendation from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is based on the lack of direct data demonstrating absence of any safety issues or interference of immune responses after co-administration of an influenza and COVID-19 vaccines. As further information becomes available, this recommendation may change to permit routine co-administration.
Healthcare provider kit
The Australian Government have distributed healthcare provider kits to support healthcare providers. This pack includes:
- newsletter article
- social media key messages
- information sheet for health professionals.
Sources of information
Reviewed 19 February 2021