The fast-tracked phase 2a is part of the government’s bid to reset the rollout — which has faced criticism for its slow pace and missing vaccination targets — and get more jabs into people’s arms.Here’s what you need to know:WHO IS NOW ELIGIBLE?Phase 2a makes COVID-19 vaccines available to those aged 50 and over.National Cabinet has also agreed that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults aged 18-49 years remain in the 2a cohort once this phase commences.The Cabinet’s decision to bring forward access to the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine only applies for phase 2a eligible people aged 50–69 years commencing with General Practice Respiratory Clinics (GPRCs) and state and territory COVID-19 vaccination sites from May 3Phases 1a and 1b included quarantine and border workers and their household contacts; health care workers; aged care and disability staff; critical and high risk workers; people aged 70 years and over; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 50 years and over; and adults with an underlying medical condition or significant disability.WHAT DO YOU NEED TO DO IF YOU ARE ELIGIBLE?You can confirm if you are able to receive a vaccine by using the Vaccine Eligibility Checker.If you are able to get a jab, the website will also tell you what nearby clinics are offering a vaccine and how you can book an appointment.The Department of Health states you should not attend a COVID-19 vaccination appointment if you are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, are awaiting a COVID-19 test results, have tested positive for the virus and are in isolation, are in quarantine, or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19.National Vaccine RolloutWHERE CAN YOU GET IT?Advice surrounding the vaccines has recently changed. Pfizer doses have been prioritised for people under 50 years old and AstraZeneca for those over 60 years old.The Pfizer jab will be at up to 50 hospital hubs across Australia. It’s expected to become available at more sites as more vials arrive in Australia.You will still be able to get the AstraZeneca vaccine at GP-led respiratory clinics, GPs, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services, state and territory-run vaccination clinics.If you are under 50 and received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine without any serious adverse effects, you can be given the second dose.Those who fall under Phase 2a will initially be able to get the jab at General Practice Respiratory Clinics and state- and territory-run vaccination clinics.From May 17, this group will be able to receive it at participating general practices. You can check your eligibility and find where to book an appointment here.HOW DO YOU BOOK AN APPOINTMENT? Clinics that are part of the vaccine rollout can take bookings online or via the phone.You can find out if your eligible, as well as where and how to book an appointment here. Some clinics will also show when the next booking is available.Those eligible can also make appointments via HotDoc and Health Engine.Mass vaccination hubs have also opened in Victoria and South Australia.In Victoria, they have been established at the Mercure Hotel and Convention Centre, Ballarat; Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton; Heidelberg Repatriation Hospital, Heidelberg Heights; Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre, Melbourne CBD; the former Ford factory, Norlane; and Sunshine Hospital, St Albans.You can book an appointment via the call centre on 1800 675 398. Walk-ins are also available between certain hours. You can find out more details here.NED-3619-AstraZeneca blood clots-What we knowSouth Australia has opened its first mass jab clinic at the Adelaide Showground. It will initially prioritise emergency service workers under 50 years old and will gradually ramp up to offer 3000 jabs a week.People who are, or who are household contacts of quarantine and airport workers; health care workers; critical and high risk emergency services workers; and people with some underlying medical conditions can book an appointment the clinic by calling 1800 253 787 or online at the SA Health website.More high-volume hubs are expected to open in Elizabeth and Noarlunga by early June.The NSW government is set to open a mass vaccination hub at Sydney Olympic Park on May 10. However, until May 24, people over 50 years old will have to see their GP for a jab.If you need more information regarding COVID-19 vaccines, you can call the national helpline on 1800 020 080.DO YOU GET TO CHOOSE WHICH VACCINE YOU RECEIVE?You do not have a choice over which COVID-19 vaccine you receive.Clinic trials for both vaccines have shown that they are effective in preventing the development of COVID-19 symptoms, and protecting against serious disease.Pfizer is preferred over the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine in people under the age of 50 years. The AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine can still be given to adults under 50 years if the benefit of vaccination is likely to outweigh risk, and where informed consent has been obtained.HOW LONG DOES THE APPOINTMENT TAKE?The length of the whole process will depend on how long you have to wait for your booking to begin upon arrival at a clinic or mass vaccination hub, but the jab itself should be quick.Patients will also have to undertake a period of observation for about 15 minutes after receiving their dose so help can be summoned in the unlikely event of an adverse reaction.People may experience some side effects — such as pain at the injection site, mild fever, and headache — after getting their shot in the arm, but these generally last no more than a couple of days.It’s recommended you see your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible, or go directly to hospital if: – You have a reaction that you consider severe or unexpected– You are concerned about your condition after vaccination.– People should seek medical attention immediately if they experience any of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, chest pain, swelling in your leg, persistent abdominal pain, neurological symptoms, including severe and persistent headaches or blurred vision, tiny blood spots under the skin beyond the site of injection.NED-3589-Vaccine-Passports-graphicDO YOU HAVE TO BRING ID OR A MEDICARE CARD?If you fall into one of the eligible worker categories, you will need to bring an employee ID card or letter from your employer, Household contacts of quarantine and border workers must show evidence of their employment and that they live at the same residential address of a worker in these fields. People over 50 years old can produce any standard form of identification. If they are attending their usual GP, the clinic’s records may be relied upon as evidence.If you have a specified underlying medical condition and are attending your usual GP, the clinic’s records may help prove your eligibility. A MyHealth record and a referral from a GP or treating specialist, among other alternative medical records, are also acceptedYou can also receive a vaccine if you do not have a Medicare card. Instead, you can apply for an Individual Health Identifier via the Services Australia website.HOW LONG DO YOU WAIT TO GET A SECOND DOSE?Both the Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines are given in two courses.The Australian Technical Advisory Group in Immunisations recommends doses should be given 12 weeks apart, and it’s important your second dose of a vaccine is the same variety as the first.IS THE APPOINTMENT FOR THE SECOND DOSE BOOKED AUTOMATICALLY? Patients are encouraged to book their second appointment after receiving the first dose of the vaccine.SHOULD YOU GET A FLU JAB FIRST?The Department of Health recommends waiting at least 14 days between a dose of seasonal flu vaccine and a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
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