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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

28 October Update

COVID Statistics in our Region

Local COVID-19 cases in the Nepean Blue Mountains region (as at 8pm 27 Oct)Confirmed cases: 438

  • Blue Mountains: Total Cases 19
  • Hawkesbury: Total Cases 30
  • Lithgow: Total Cases 14
  • Penrith: Total Cases 375

Check the NSW Health website regularly for regional restrictions, the latest case locations and for current vaccination rates by suburb

ATAGI and TGA Updates on Booster Doses

ATAGI has recommended a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people who are aged 18 years and over if their last dose at least six months previous. The TGA has provisionally approved the Pfizer vaccine as a booster vaccine for individuals aged 18 years and above.

Mental Health Support for Patients

Do you have patients who would benefit from additional mental health support? A reminder that Head to Health Pop Up is a free, no referral needed, service developed to provide immediate support for individuals whose mental health has been affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak. Patients can call 1800 595 212, Monday to Friday, 8:30am - 5:00pm and a trained mental health professional will discuss their needs and refer them to appropriate local services for further treatment. More information including posters and a patient flyer is available on our website.

26 October Update

Third Dose Vaccination Information

With the continued easing of restrictions it is important for practices to reach out to their patients who may not have been vaccinated yet, and those who are immunocompromised and eligible for a third dose, to discuss their vaccination options with them. In order to receive a third dose, patients must meet the ATAGI criteria. Refer to the ATAGI guidelines and clinical notes on the HealthPathways Vaccination Procedure Pathway for further details on eligibility and dose scheduling.

Resources for Indigenous Patients

The Department of Health has released a number of in-language resources for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community members regarding vaccination. These are part of the resource collection available online. There are also vaccine provider resources available to support conversations with your Indigenous patients about vaccination. The Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service (GWAHS) is delivering both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccinations at their location in Penrith. For bookings visit the Vaccine Clinic Finder.

Updated Vaccination Resources

The Department of Health has recently updated these resources for vaccination providers and their patients:

Deputy CMO Primary Care Update

On Thursday 28 October 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.

21 October Update

COVID-19 Vaccination Exemption

You may have seen recent media (such as AusDoc and ABC) which suggests there has been a number of vaccination exemptions provided which do not meet the ATAGI criteria. The only exemptions for vaccination are those outlined by the ATAGI guidelines. The required form and further guidance are available through the Vaccination Procedure Pathway under Clinical Editors Notes>Other Updates.

18 October Update

RACGP Webinar Tonight

Tonight at 7:00pm the RACGP is holding a webinar for GPs on infection control and post-COVID-19 care. This webinar will cover the updated PPE risk matrix, vaccination and COVID-19 diagnosis for pregnant patients, the long-term effects of COVID-19 and the GP role in post-COVID care of patients in the community. Register for this event online.

NEW Post-COVID-19 Conditions Pathway

The new Post-COVID-19 Conditions Pathway has a list of 'red-flag' symptoms which any patient previously exposed to COVID-19 may present with regardless of a previously confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis. There are detailed assessment and management guidelines which cover neurology, myalgias, mental health, combined hormonal contraception risks and more. Referral options are also provided.

Vaccination Resources for GPs

Now 80% of people over 16 years are double-dose vaccinated in NSW we encourage practices to reach out to patients who may not have been vaccinated yet, and those who are immunocompromised and eligible for a third dose, to discuss their vaccination options with them. The Department of Health has a range of resources available for GPs to support discussions with patients, and the HealthPathways Vaccination Resources Pathway has recently been updated with new sub-headings to make clinical resources easier to find.

PPE and Infection Control Risk Matrix

If appropriate PPE is in place, the Public Health Unit will not declare staff a close contact should they come into contact with a positive COVID-19 case. Practices should be using P2/N95 masks and goggles or face shields during any face-to-face contact with patients. The Department of Health has released a framework to support safe decision making when determining restrictions, independent of quarantine, for healthcare workers after a COVID-19 exposure.

No-Referral Mental Health Support 

Do you have patients who would benefit from additional mental health support? A reminder that Head to Health Pop Up is a free, no referral needed, service developed to provide immediate support for individuals whose mental health has been affected by the current COVID-19 outbreak. Patients can call 1800 595 212, Monday to Friday, 8:30am - 5:00pm and a trained mental health professional will discuss their needs and refer them to appropriate local services for further treatment. More information including posters and a patient flyer is available on our website.

Updated Vaccination Resources

The Department of Health has recently updated these resources for vaccination providers and their patients:

Deputy CMO Primary Care Update

On Thursday 21 October 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.

15 October Update

MBS Extension until 18 October

The Commonwealth has extended the declaration of Greater Sydney and NSW as a hotspot until Monday 18 October 2021. This means that telehealth can continue under hotspot guidelines until this date. The Government is currently considering telehealth items in relation to these rules, and we will provide an update regarding this when further information is available.

Close Contact Guidance for GPs

NSW Health has put together a range of factsheets which outline the latest guidance (Oct 2021) for close contacts, casual contacts, and release and recovery for COVID-19 patients.

Third Dose Guidance from ATAGI

ATAGI has released guidance regarding a third vaccine dose for immunocompromised patients aged 12 years and older. It is recommended that the third dose is an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna. HealthPathways has been updated to reflect the updated guidance. Refer to the ATAGI guidelines and clinical notes on the HealthPathways Vaccination Procedure Pathway for further details on eligibility and scheduling. The MBS item number for a third vaccine dose is the same as a second dose.

11 October Update

Third Dose Guidance from ATAGI

ATAGI has released guidance regarding a third vaccine dose for immunocompromised patients aged 12 years and older. It is recommended that the third dose is an mRNA vaccine such as Pfizer or Moderna. HealthPathways has been updated to reflect the updated guidance. Refer to the ATAGI guidelines and clinical notes on the HealthPathways Vaccination Procedure Pathway for further details on eligibility and scheduling. The MBS item number for a third vaccine dose is the same as a second dose.

PPE and Asymptomatic Patients

As vaccination rates increase in NSW there may be a potential increase in asymptomatic COVID-19 patients. It is important that practices continue to use appropriate PPE, such as P2/N95 masks and goggles or face shields during any face-to-face contact with patients. The Department of Health has released a framework to support safe decision making when determining restrictions, independent of quarantine, for healthcare workers after a COVID-19 exposure.

Priority Vaccination for Aboriginal Patients

With the easing of restrictions it is important that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients are prioritised for double-dose vaccination. The Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service (GWAHS) is delivering both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccinations at their location in Penrith. Walk-in appointments for Pfizer are currently available at the Penrith Panthers Clinic. Vaccinations are also available at general practices and commonwealth vaccination clinics across the region and resources for discussing vaccination with community members are available from the Department of Health. For more information visit the Vaccine Clinic Finder.

ATAGI Update (6 October)

Vaccine safety information from ATAGI has been updated to include further details regarding Thrombosis and Thrombocytopenia Syndrome rates in Australia post-vaccination, as well as ongoing evaluations of the risk/benefits of vaccination and associated adverse effects. ATAGI has reaffirmed that the benefits of Pfizer outweigh the risks of myocarditis and/or pericarditis for any age group and strongly recommend eligible individuals without contraindications to be offered vaccination, and that that the benefits of vaccination with AstraZeneca in preventing severe COVID-19 strongly outweigh the risks of adverse effects in all Australians 60 years and older.

Updated Vaccination Resources

The Department of Health has recently updated these resources for vaccination providers and their patients:

COVID-19 Update from the Deputy CMO

On Thursday 14 October at 11:30am a response update 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 and Dr Clara Soo, a vaccinating GP in Canberra.

7 October Update

COVID-19 Safety Advice for Healthcare Workers and Patients

With the easing of restrictions next week, it is more important than ever to maintain safety protocols in your practice which will keep your staff and patients safe. 

Myocarditis and Pericarditis Pathway

The Myocarditis and Pericarditis after mRNA COVID-19 Vaccines Pathway is now live. This Pathway details guidance on assessing for symptoms of myocarditis and/or pericarditis, managing symptoms in the community and when to refer cases for specialist or emergency management. It also contains post-diagnosis exercise recommendations, prognosis, and long-term follow-up guidance.

Walk-In Vaccinations at Penrith Panthers

The Penrith Panthers Rugby League Club Vaccination Hub currently has capacity for walk-up Pfizer vaccinations. The clinic is open seven days, 7:30am to 5:00pm. Pfizer is available to everyone 12 years and older.

COVID-19 Update from the Deputy CMO

Today at 11:30am a response update was held by Professor Michael Kidd for GPs regarding the latest information on COVID-19. Professor Kidd was joined by Dr Lucas de Toca and Dr Clara Soo, a vaccinating GP in Canberra.

RACGP and NSW Health will provide a COVID-19 update for GPs on Monday 11 October at 7:00pm with updates from Dr Kerry Chant, A/Prof Charlotte Hespe, and A/Prof Penny Burns. Register online now.

5 October Update

Updates to Vaccine Procedure Pathway

The COVID-19 Vaccine Procedure Pathway has been updated with additional headings to better address frequently asked question topics for patients and health professionals. The yellow Clinical Editor's Note at the top of the page highlights the most recent additions to this pathway. 

Priority Vaccination For Aboriginal Patients

Thanks to the contribution of general practice, NSW has provided first dose vaccinations to more than half of eligible Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients. With the easing of restrictions approaching it is important these patients are prioritised for double-dose vaccination. The Greater Western Aboriginal Health Service (GWAHS) is delivering both Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccinations at their location in Penrith. Vaccinations are also available at general practices and commonwealth vaccination clinics across the region. For more information visit the Vaccine Clinic Finder.

Vaccine Transport Between Practices

The Department of Health has developed a factsheet to support primary care vaccination providers who may need to transport COVID-19 vaccines between sites. Vaccines should not be transported without a minimum/ maximum thermometer, or data logger, to monitor temperature during transfer. For further assistance on vaccine transport you can contact our General Practice Support team on 4708 8100.

ATAGI Updates on TTS (29 September)

Vaccine safety information from ATAGI has been updated to include further details regarding vaccine safety and the epidemiology of the Delta variant in NSW. ATAGI has noted emerging national data demonstrating that only a small proportion of patients with severe COVID-19 were reported to be vaccinated, consistent with a high vaccine effectiveness against severe disease. Greater detail on adverse events following vaccination have been noted as part of this update.

Updated Vaccination Resources

The Department of Health has recently updated these resources for vaccination providers and their patients:

COVID-19 Update from the Deputy CMO

On Thursday 7 October at 11:30am a response update 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 and Dr Clara Soo, a vaccinating GP in Canberra. 

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