CCMC has been approved be a COVID-19 vaccination provider and we are now vaccinating eligible patients.
We are not providing the Pfizer vaccine as this requires specialized storage facilities and will be given at so-called "Pfizer Hubs" to high-risk healthcare, quarantine workers and those in nursing care facilities as phase 1a of the government's roll out strategy. We are using the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine - 2 doses, 12 weeks' apart.
Given the expected unprecedented huge demand for the vaccine, appointments at our vaccine clinics will be short (although you will have to remain on site for 15 minutes after the injection), there will be no time for detailed discussion - we expect people turning up to have already made the decision to have the injection; if you are unsure please make an appointment with your GP to discuss further. We also hope that the information on this page is of help in making this decision. Please fill in and bring this consent form along with you to the appointment together with your proof of eligibility.
How can I make an appointment?
If you have Medicare and are in one of the Phase 1b categories (>70yrs old, Aboriginal Torres Strait Islander >55yrs old, Healthcare worker, 18-70yrs old with chronic disease, critical workers eg Police) then you may make an appointment here. However for the first month of the 1b roll out, from 22/3/21, there will be only a very few available for online booking. This is because, due to supply constraints, the government is only providing us with 80 doses per week. We expect the availability to increase in the 2nd-3rd week of April (as the Australian-produced vaccine starts to be delivered) and that we will then be able to open up more vaccination appointments to be freely booked.
To prove eligibility for a 1b vaccination you will need a print out of the health summary from your My Health Record (MHR) or if, you don't have an MHR then a letter from your GP/specialist (please - only if you haven't got an MHR as we don't want to burden other doctors at this very busy time). A letter from your employer is needed for the employment categories. We will also make you an appointment for your 2nd dose 12 weeks later (minimum of 4 weeks if pressing need to complete vaccination earlier). Recent trial data shows better ongoing protection if the 2nd dose is given at 12 weeks reaching 81% in those with a dosing interval of 12 weeks or more versus 55% in those with an interval of less than 6 weeks.
It is not possible to pay to jump the queue and have the vaccine before you are eligible or to have the Pfizer vaccine.
We will only be supplied with vaccine for those with Medicare; those without will be able to get the vaccine but will need to attend one of the health department vaccination clinics.
How much does it cost?
The government is paying for both the vaccine itself and the appointment - these will be bulk billed to Medicare
Will I get a certificate of vaccination?
No. The details of your immunisation will be uploaded to the Australian Immunisation Register, you can download a statement of your immunisations from there.
Which vaccine will I get?
At this stage GPs can only provide the AstraZeneca vaccine and all the information below relates only to this vaccine. It is not possible to pay for an alternative vaccine.
Does the vaccine work?
In initial trials the AstraZeneca vaccine has been shown to be about 80% effective at stopping COVID-19 disease (we do not know if it, or any of the other vaccines, prevents/reduces transmission but recent data on this are very promising). However it is more effective at stopping serious disease or death (about 90%). The Pfizer vaccine is about 95% effective. This efficacy is better than the effectiveness of the annual influenza vaccine. A recent study of 5.4 million people in Scotland showed that a single shot of the Pfizer option was 85 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation at 28-34 days post-vaccination, whereas one shot of the AstraZeneca vaccine was 94 per cent effective at preventing hospitalisation in the same interval. The AstraZeneca vaccine has also been shown to be effective against the highly infectious "UK" strain of COVID but not the "South African" strain (AstraZeneca expect to produce a newer version of the vaccine to be effective against this towards the end of the year). We are however recommending immunisation straightaway rather than waiting for a better vaccine that may not come for a while if at all. We do not know how long the protection from the immunisation will last i.e. whether we will need annual immunisations as we do for influenza. The vaccine is just one part, albeit an important part, of how we will get on top of COVID - we will need to carry on with good hygiene, social distancing, testing and restricted international travel for a while yet.
Is the vaccine safe?
One of the main concerns people have is around the safety of the vaccines; they worry that they have been brought out too quickly and that corners must have been cut to enable this. In the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA), we have one of the strictest regulators in the world and they are happy with the safety of the vaccine. Australia, as a result of relative isolation and good management, has been spared the worst of the pandemic and the TGA has therefore not had to rush into giving the emergency approval for use of the vaccine that has happened in other parts of the world and has had time to make a full appraisal of all the safety data. The TGA is continuing to monitor the long term safety data as it comes in.
All the COVID-19 vaccines that the TGA has approved have gone through the standard series of safety trials that all medication has to undertake. It has been faster for several reasons; firstly research has been ongoing on coronavirus vaccines since the SARS (or SARS-CoV-1, COVID-19 is SARS-CoV-2) outbreak in 2002-2004 - this knowledge was readily applied to the development of the COVID-19 vaccine and has given the scientists a head start into which avenues of research and development were best to follow. Secondly, all the bureaucratic processes have been hugely accelerated; when drug trials are formulated they have to be approved by various regulators and ethics committees, this takes months and months largely because it takes this long for your trial to get to the top of the pile - with the COVID-19 vaccine trials these requests were assessed immediately. Thirdly, pharmaceutical companies and governments have taken large financial risks by pumping millions of dollars into the process so large trials can be conducted straightaway rather than doing smaller ones first.
We now have the benefit of seeing many millions of people having the vaccine around the world and these are being actively monitored to give ongoing efficacy data but also looking for the possibility of rare (< 1 in 100,000 chance) serious side effects that would not necessarily have been picked up in the initial trials.
There does seem to be a small risk of central venous thrombosis (blood clots) associated with low blood platelet counts. The risk is approximately 1 in 250,000 (1 in 400,000 in Australia). There is no increased risk of the common deep vein thrombosis (DVT - in the leg) or pulmonary embolism (lung blood clots). It is recommended that patients with a history of Central Venous Sinus Thrombosis or Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia not receive the vaccine. To put this risk into perspective, the background risk of an individual having a venous thrombosis in a given year is about 1 in 5000, for a women on the combined oral contraceptive pill this rises to between 3-12 in10,000, pregnant women the risk is between 2-3 in 1000. The risk of a blood clot after a 4 hour flight is approximately 1 in 5000 (higher for longer flights).
More context (UK data, but illustrates the point):
Who shouldn't have the vaccine?
The vaccine is not for use in <18yrs old. The vaccine can still be used in those under 50yrs old but you may prefer to wait for the Pfizer vaccine given the very small risk of thrombosis with the AstraZeneca vaccine in this age group.
We have limited data for its use in pregnant women or when breast feeding so we would only recommend having the vaccine if you in a high risk group and on the direct recommendation of your specialist. There is more evidence of the safety of the Pfizer vaccine in breastfeeding and pregnancy.
If you have ever had a severe allergic reaction to any of the vaccine ingredients: L-histidine, L-histidine hydrochloride monohydrate, magnesium chloride hexahydrate, polysorbate 80, ethanol, sucrose, sodium chloride, disodium edetate dihydrate
If you have had a severe allergic reaction to any other vaccination
If you currently have an illness with a fever over 38°C
If you have a bleeding disorder or on blood thinning agents - you will probably be able to have the injection but discuss first with the doctor or nurse.
If your immune system does not work properly (immunodeficiency) or you are taking medicines that weaken the immune system (such as high-dose corticosteroids, immunosuppressants or cancer medicines) - again, you will probably be able to have the injection but discuss first with the doctor or nurse.
If you have had Central Venous Sinus Thrombosis or Heparin Induced Thrombocytopenia
Are there side effects from the vaccine?
Yes, as with all medications there is the possibility of side effects, these are similar to what we see in the annual influenza vaccination, this is from the AstraZeneca product information sheet:
Very Common (may affect more than 1 in 10 people)
tenderness, pain, warmth, redness, itching, swelling or bruising where the injection is given
generally feeling unwell
feeling tired (fatigue)
chills or feeling feverish
feeling sick (nausea)
joint pain or muscle ache
Common (may affect up to 1 in 10 people)
a lump at the injection site
being sick (vomiting)
flu-like symptoms, such as high temperature, sore throat, runny nose, cough and chills
Uncommon (may affect up to 1 in 100 people)
enlarged lymph nodes
excessive sweating, itchy skin or rash
In clinical trials there were very rare reports of events associated with inflammation of the nervous system, which may cause numbness, pins and needles, and/or loss of feeling. However, it is not confirmed whether these events were due to the vaccine.
If you have a severe or unusual side effect it is important that this is reported to the TGA - you can either ask your GP to do this or report it directly yourself.
Can I have the influenza (flu) vaccine at the same time?
No, there needs to be a 2 week gap between the COVID-19 vaccines and any other vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccine myths
It makes women infertile - there is no evidence to support this claim or any theoretical reason why this might be the case. It is more likely that COVID-19 itself might cause problems with fertility given its vascular inflammatory effects.
It will give you COVID-19 - this is not possible; as with the influenza vaccine and may other vaccines none of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the actual virus. If you catch COVID-19 after having the vaccine it simply means either that it has not had time to work, not worked or worn off.
It will incorporate the COVID-19 genetic material into our DNA - this is a fear relating to the Pfizer/Moderna vaccines which use Messenger RNA (mRNA) to instruct our cells to create a fragment of the COVID-19 virus (the spike protein) which, in turn, stimulates our immune system to recognize the COVID-19 virus in the future and attack it. Once the mRNA has done its job it is destroyed - it is very unstable (hence the reason the vaccine has to be stored at -70°C). mRNA is made by DNA to take instructions to cells to make proteins and can not combine with DNA.
It contains a microchip that Bill Gates is going to use to track you - if you believe this then you probably won't have read this far down the page.