30

Jul
2021

COVID vaccines allocated to areas of greatest need

The NSW Government’s redirection of state supplies of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines from rural and regional areas to Year 12 students in Sydney will not affect local GP and Commonwealth Vaccination Clinic allocations, but does reduce the overall supplies currently available to our region

Healthy North Coast is helping to deliver the national COVID-19 vaccination rollout on the North Coast. This includes working closely with the state-run local health districts (LHDs) and frontline health services to ensure the most up-to-date information is shared.

Healthy North Coast Chief Executive Julie Sturgess said Australia’s vaccine rollout had gone through several changes since its launch in February this year.

‘This isn’t surprising given the enormity of the program,’ Ms Sturgess said. ‘The program has had to adapt to new information about the vaccines from authorities like the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), and support our most vulnerable populations, which has included prioritising vaccine supply to outbreak areas.

‘It’s also not surprising that there is some confusion and frustration in our community because of these changes. Our frontline health services and staff are working around the clock to adjust to the changing nature of the rollout, supporting increased testing and vaccinations, as well as continuing to provide non-COVID services.

‘Given the current outbreak in Sydney, it’s appropriate that the program is reviewed and changes made to help protect those most at risk. Despite the temporary reduction in doses this will mean for the North Coast, we, too, continue to prioritise our most vulnerable populations.

‘We’re now working with residential aged care facilities and supporting local initiatives through GPs and the two LHDs in our region to vaccinate aged care staff. We’re also working with our local health district partners to support people who are experiencing homelessness in our region to get their COVID jabs.’

Ms Sturgess said a mobile service commenced in mid-July and this would improve access to COVID-19 vaccinations for hundreds of people sleeping rough. It will travel from Port Macquarie to Tweed Heads over the coming weeks.

Healthy North Coast is urging people to stay patient, do the right things to continue to stay COVID-safe, and get vaccinated as soon as possible.

North Coast vaccination rollout — your questions answered

What are the latest local vaccination figures? 

Nearly 171,000 vaccine doses have been administered since the program began – 77% AstraZeneca and 23% Pfizer.

In the past week, a record 12,330 doses have been administered. The number of doses given per week has increased each week over the past month. 

How and where do I make an appointment to get vaccinated? 

The Vaccine Eligibility Checker is still the best way to find out where and when you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine. It will help you find a clinic, based on the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) vaccine recommendations.

What vaccine should I get? 

The Department of Health website has comprehensive, up-to-date information about who can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine or the Pfizer vaccine.

How do I register my interest in being vaccinated if I’m under 40? 

Use the Vaccine Eligibility Checker to find out when you can receive a vaccine. If you are eligible, you will be able to view vaccination locations and book an appointment.

If you are not yet eligible, you will be able to register your interest so that you can be notified when you are able to book.

People aged 18 to 39 years old can speak to their GP about receiving an AstraZeneca vaccine or book an appointment at a NSW Health vaccination clinic.

When will Pfizer availability improve on the North Coast? 

There is very strong demand for Pfizer vaccine, exceeding supply both locally and nationally, with up to 3 months waiting time. The Federal Government has committed to an increased Pfizer supply becoming available from mid-September.

How is vaccine supply being rolled out locally? 

Healthy North Coast is helping to coordinate the roll out of vaccines to general practices, Commonwealth Vaccination Clinics and residential aged care facilities.

NSW Health is running vaccination clinics at local hospitals, as well as operating a number of pop-up clinics throughout the region.

A small number of pharmacies in the region will also begin providing AstraZeneca vaccinations for people aged over 60 in the near future.

Contact for media enquiries

Zoe Satherley (Mon-Wed)

Phone: 0428 623 093

Mike Hely (Wed-Fri)

Phone: 0437 978 473

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Our regional partners

  • Local Health District partners in our footprint: Mid North Coast Local Health District (MNCLHD) & Northern New South Wales Local Health District (NNSWLHD)
  • Aboriginal Medical Services (AMS)
  • The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP)
  • Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM)
  • Rural Doctors Network (RDN)
  • Rural Clinical Schools & Regional Training Hubs
  • General Practitioners
  • Registrars and International Medical Graduates
  • North Coast Allied Health Association (NCAHA)
  • Local Councils
    Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA)
  • Universities including: Charles Sturt University (CSU), University of New South Wales (UNSW), Southern Cross University (SCU)

Aged Care Disaster Management Planning

Strategic Priority Area: One team

North Coast is identified as the region most likely to be impacted by climate change in Australia and also forecasted greatest growth in those 65+.

Healthy North Coast takes a lead role in ensuring the older population and the sector that supports them are prepared for, can respond to and recover from disasters and other emergencies.

We have led eight regional disaster management capacity building workshops, bringing together SES, community organisations and the aged care sector.

We have also developed disaster preparedness tip sheets for both residential and community aged care providers.

Voluntary Assisted Dying

Strategic Priority Area: One team

In May 2022, the NSW Parliament passed the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act 2022. Effective from Tuesday, 28 November 2023, eligible people have the choice to access voluntary assisted dying. 

Healthy North Coast has developed a webpage for both health professionals and consumers, with links to available information and resources.

Living with Dementia resources

Strategic Priority Area: No one is left behind

Healthy North Coast has worked with people living with dementia, their families and local service providers to develop an information booklet that will help them connect with local and national supports along their journey.

The booklet includes commonly asked questions for people to ask their GP and/or specialist.

The resource is available in digital and printed copies, with more than 5,000 distributed across the region. An e-version is available to clinicians via the Dementia and Cognitive Impairment HealthPathway.

Deteriorating Resident Triage Tool Pilot

Strategic Priority Area: One team

The Deteriorating Resident Response Tool (DRRT) has been developed to guide RN’s in Residential Aged Care homes (RACHs) to better understand, anticipate and make clinical decisions responding to the deteriorating health of residents.

The objective of the DRRT is to give RACH staff clear information to triage and provide appropriate care for a range of residents’ health conditions, and, in turn, prevent unnecessary presentations to ED.

The tool has been designed together with a specialist geriatrician, consulting with stakeholders such as Residential Aged Care Managers, NSW Ambulance, GPs, and experts from Mid and North Coast LHDs.

The pilot commences in March with four participating RACHs. Evaluation measures will include effectiveness in building RN confidence and reported reduction in unnecessary hospitalisations. Findings will inform a future planned, region-wide implementation.

North Coast Care Finders Program

Strategic Priority Area: No one is left behind

The Care Finders program is a free region-wide service to support vulnerable older people who have no-one else to help them, to learn about, apply for and set up support services.

Care finders can help people understand what aged care services are available, set up an assessment, and find and choose services. They also help people with access to other supports in the community, both accessing services for the first time and changing or finding new services and supports.

On the North Coast, Healthy North Coast has commissioned four organisations to provide this important service: EACH, Carexcell, Lifetime Connect and Footprints.

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Psychological services in residential aged care homes

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Healthy North Coast commissions two service providers to deliver psychological therapies and supports for older people with, or at risk of developing, a mental illness and who are living in residential aged care homes (RACHs).

The aim of the program is to both provide direct support to residents and their families and carers, as well as upskill the RACH workforce to respond to the needs of residents presenting with mental health concerns.

Social prescribing (Healthy Me Healthy Community)

Strategic Priority Area: Securing a Healthier Future

Delivered by Feros Care, the Healthy Me, Healthy Community program aims to build individual and community connections to reduce loneliness and improve wellbeing in Port Macquarie.

The program helps people to connect with community, activities, supports and services that address their broader social determinants of health, as an alternative or supplement to a clinical approach.

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Digital Health in Residential Aged Care

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Timely access to primary health care professionals, whether through face-to-face consultation or telehealth, is recognised as an issue for many Residential Aged Care Homes (RACHs), that in some cases can lead to potentially preventable hospitalisations. RACHs require adequate telehealth facilities to support access to virtual consultations for their residents.

Project goals

  • Assist participating RACHs to have appropriate telehealth facilities and equipment to enable their residents to virtually consult when needed with their primary health care professionals, specialists and other clinicians. 
  • Provide training to participating RACH staff to support them to have the capabilities to assist their residents in accessing virtual consultation services.
  • Encourage increased use of My Health Record by RACHs, to improve the availability and secure transfer of resident’s health care information between RACHs, primary care and acute care settings.
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Greater Choice at Home Palliative Care Program

Strategic Priority Area: Improving Lives Now

Aims to provide people who have life limiting conditions the opportunity to exercise choice and receive high quality care at home, harnessing improved and better coordinated supports and services that meet their individual needs.

Program objectives:

  • Improve access to palliative care at home and support end-of-life care systems and services (in primary health care and community care)
  • To enable the right care at the right time and in the right place (to reduce unnecessary hospitalisation)
  • Generate and use data to support continuous improvement of services across sectors
  • Use available technologies to support flexible and responsive palliative care at home, including in the after-hours.

These objectives will contribute to achieving the following intended overarching outcomes of:

  • Improved capacity and responsiveness of services to meet local needs and priorities
  • Improved patient access to quality palliative care services in the home
  • Improved coordination of care for patients across health care providers and integration of palliative care services in their region.

Education & training funding elibility

Funding is open to all primary care providers within disaster affected communities across the Healthy North Coast footprint.

Workforce Locum support and R&R funding criteria

  • Available to primary care services in disaster impacted communities within the Healthy North Coast footprint.
  • Available to support short-term workforce coverage, allowing clinicians to rest and recover.
  • Workforce-support funding in total is capped for each site, over a 12-month period:
    • $10k for GPs and/or
    • $5K for nursing and/or
    • $5k administration support and/or
    • $5K allied/pharmacy and other.
  • Funding is not to be used to fill gaps in staffing that have not been able to recruit to and not to replace existing staff.
  • Healthy North Coast will assess requirements and approve available funding directly with the service requesting support.
  • Priority will be given to sites that have immediate, short-term workforce support needs.
  • Requests will be reviewed and supported on a case-by-case basis.
  • Program funding administered via RCTI Agreement (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) to be paid monthly, or on completion of the placement (whichever comes first).
  • Practices will be required to complete a request for payment form monthly, or on completion of the placement (whichever occurs first).

Wellbeing Flexible Funding Criteria & Eligibility

  • Open to all primary care providers within disaster affected communities across the Healthy North Coast footprint.
  • Activity must be purposeful, with the aim of increasing the wellbeing of your team.
  • Requests will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with funding allocated based on team size.*
  • Following approval by Healthy North Coast, funding will be administered via RCTI Agreement (Recipient Created Tax Invoice) upon providing proof of expenses.
  • Funding cannot be used for the purchase of alcohol, or any other goods or services where the vendor cannot quote their Australian Business Number.
  • Planned activities must occur prior to 30th June 2024.
  • Funding will not be available for retrospective activities.
*Team Size
(Total staff and contractors)
Funding Available
Small (1-5)$500-$1500
Medium (6-20)$1500-$4000
Large (>20)$4000-$5000