NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has acknowledged the ‘enormous contribution’ general practitioners have made during the response to COVID-19.
Writing to all NSW GPs this week, Dr Chant said a significant challenge they faced was the rate at which evidence and new information was emerging, particularly in relation to the available COVID-19 vaccines.
In her letter, she outlined a number of key points, including:
- NSW Health encourages everyone 16 years and over in NSW to strongly consider getting their COVID-19 vaccination now, with any available COVID-19 vaccine
- both available COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Discuss with patients the individual risks and benefits of vaccination
- NSW Health now advises use of a 4-to-8-week interval between doses of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, for all of NSW
- Consider increasing the interval between the first and second doses of Pfizer vaccine from 3 to 6 weeks to make it easier for more people to access first doses in the areas of greatest risk of COVID-19.
Dr Chant said pregnant women should be offered the Pfizer vaccine at any stage of pregnancy. She said the online Vaccine Eligibility Checker had been updated to reflect this.
AstraZeneca vaccine can be considered for those who are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning pregnancy, if they cannot access Pfizer and if the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.
Dr Chant noted that from 30 September, all staff who work for NSW Health or in a private health facility, will be required to have had at least their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine.
Under the Public Health Order, these staff must be fully vaccinated by 30 November 2021. Staff with a medical contraindication must have this certified by a medical practitioner.
‘I would like to take this opportunity to thank you again for your dedication and support as we face the ongoing COVID-19 situation,’ Dr Chant said in closing.
‘I highly value the contribution from general practitioners and I look forward to continuing to work together as we respond to the pandemic.’
Read the letter from Dr Chant (24 Aug 2021).