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COVID vaccines

Who will be eligible to receive the vaccine?

The COVID-19 vaccination will be free for:

* all Medicare-eligible Australians
* all visa-holders, excluding visa sub-classes 771 (Transit), 600 (Tourist stream), 651 (eVisitor) and 601 (Electronic Travel Authority).

While the Australian Government strongly supports immunisation it is not mandatory and individuals may choose not to vaccinate.

PhaseEligible populations
1aQuarantine and border workers
Frontline healthcare worker sub-groups for prioritisation
Aged care and disability care staff
Aged care and disability care residents
1b Elderly adults aged 80 years and over
Elderly adults aged 70-79 years
Other health care workers
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people > 55
Younger adults with an underlying medical condition, including those with a disability
Critical and high risk workers including defence, police, fire, emergency services and meat processing
2aAdults aged 60-69 years
Adults aged 50-59 years
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people 18- 54
Other critical and high risk workers
2b Balance of adult population
3 Under 18 year olds if recommended

Vaccination locations

Vaccination locations will be established across metropolitan, regional, rural and remote Australia.
Around 30-50 locations will be established as ongoing 'Hospital Hubs' in urban and rural Australia. The sites of these are being finalised in conjunction with States and Territories. They will manage cold chain storage and Pfizer vaccine only and will provide a distribution hub for hospital, quarantine and border staff and residential aged care and disability residents and staff.
A further 1000+ locations will manage and distribute the AstraZeneca vaccine. These sites will include GP Respiratory clinics, general practices, state/territory vaccination clinics and Aboriginal Controlled Health Organisation clinics. These locations will be determined via an expression of interest process which will be open shortly.

Vaccine types

  1. Pfizer/BioNTech Vaccine
    If the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, and is approved for use, it will be available from early 2021. This vaccine is currently being rolled out across the United Kingdom (UK), european Union (EU) and and the United States of America (USA).
    Administration: 2 doses will be required approximately one month apart
    Side effects: In the trials, the vaccine was generally well-tolerated, and an independent data monitoring committee reported no serious safety concerns. The worst side effects were fatigue and headaches after the second dose. Around four per cent of people reported fatigue and two per cent a headache. Other side effects were pain at the injection site and myalgia.
    With the roll out of the vaccine in the UK, there have been reports of two people with a history of allergies who have had serious adverse reactions to the vaccine. These are being investigated to determine causality.
    Storage: For long-term storage (approximately six months) the vaccine must be kept at -70 C, which requires specialist cooling equipment. Pfizer has a distribution container that keeps the vaccine at that temperature for 10 days if unopened. These containers can be used for temporary storage in a vaccination facility for up to 30 days if they are replenished with dry ice every five days. Once thawed, the vaccine can be stored at 2C to 8C for up to five days.
    General comments:
    It is still unclear if the vaccine provides immunity for the disease as well as preventing infection.
    In the UK, roll out to pregnant women and children is not included due to lack of testing in these groups.
    Early data has been provided to the TGA and there be will be an application for provisional approval for use in Australia.
    The 10 million doses secured by Australia will be manufactured in the United States of America, Belgium and Germany.

  2. University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine
    If the vaccine is proven to be safe and effective, and is approved for use, it will be available from early 2021.
    Administration: Based on current trials it is likely two doses will be required approximately one month apart
    Side effects: Side effects have been reported as minimal, however, there appears to be limited information on what these side effects are
    Storage: The vaccine can be stored at temperatures between 2C to 8C
    General comments:
    Early trials suggest the vaccine may prevent asymptomatic infection, however, more research is required before this can be verified.
    Australia has secured the delivery of 3.8 million doses in early 2021 and 30 million doses will be manufactured in Australia by the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories (CSL).


Index of general public information

Covid-19 Notices
Emergency Numbers
After Hours 13 74 25
Flu Shot
Local Pharmacies

General Information

Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness, also known as mountain sickness, is caused by the low oxygen levels in the air at altitudes above about 2,500 metres. It occurs when the body has not had time to adjust to less oxygen.

Altitude sickness can affect anybody - being young or physically fit does not decrease the risk. Whether or not you get altitude sickness could depend on:
  • your height above sea level
  • the time you took to make the ascent
  • whether or not you have any problems affecting you heart and lungs.

Altitude sickness can be fatal if not treated.

What are the symptoms of altitude sickness?

If you have altitude sickness, you are likely to feel dizzy and weak, you might also have a headache and feel nauseous. It can feel like a hangover.

Altitude sickness can affect your lungs, in which case it is sometimes known as high altitude pulmonary edema or HAPE. People with HAPE can feel short of breath and have a cough and a racing heart. In extreme cases, their lips turn blue.

Altitude sickness can also cause your brain to swell with fluid, which is sometimes known as high altitude cerebral edema or HACE. People with HACE can feel confused and irritable and behave in an erratic way.

Altitude sickness can be worse at night and can last for days, even if you stay at the same altitude.

How is altitude sickness treated?

If you have altitude sickness, you should stay at the same altitude or go lower until the symptoms disappear. Rest, fluids and pain killers are likely to improve the symptoms. Do not continue to climb higher.

It is best not to drink alcohol or take sedatives or sleeping pills because they interfere with the body's adaptation to high altitude.

If you have signs of altitude sickness affecting their lungs or their brain, this is a medical emergency. You need help to descend as soon as possible. Breathing oxygen from a tank can help.

How is altitude sickness prevented?

If you're planning to travel to a high altitude, consider talking to your doctor about drugs that can help with acclimatisation, particularly if you have had altitude sickness before.

Studies have shown that prophylactic administration of acetazolamide at a dose of 250mg every eight to twelve hours before and during rapid ascent to altitude results in fewer and/or less severe symptoms (such as headache, nausea, shortness of breath, dizziness, drowsiness, and fatigue) of acute mountain sickness (AMS). Pulmonary function is greater both in subjects with mild AMS and asymptomatic subjects. The treated climbers also had less difficulty in sleeping.

You can reduce the chance of getting altitude sickness by:
  • avoiding a rapid ascent from sea level
  • don't go above about 2,500 metres for the first night's sleep
  • once you get above 3,000 metres, ascending by no more than 500 metres per day
  • spending the night below the day's highest altitude
  • avoiding strenuous exercise before your body has had time to adjust to the lower oxygen levels
  • avoiding alcohol at high altitude.
  • If you have a medical problem that affects your lungs, heart or circulation, you are at increased risk of getting altitude sickness.

If you are worried that you have altitude sickness call healthdirect on 1800 022 222 to speak to a registered nurse.

More from www.healthdirect.gov.au

The information in the above were collected from the internet,
either from government websites or from reasonably reliable health information sources.
They are for general information only and should not replace the need of seeking medical care during illnesses.