A forecast change to Victorian Department of Health processes that risked hindering COVID-19 vaccinations for at-risk community members has been postponed following advocacy from North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network (NWMPHN).
Emergency provisions enacted at the height of pandemic meant that trained pharmacists and nurses were allowed to administer COVID-19 vaccines without supervision or instruction as long as they had the approval of the department Secretary.
Earlier this year the Department flagged that this provision, known as Secretary Approval, would lapse on 19 October 2023. NWMPHN was concerned that the consequent loss of these immunisers would impact its vulnerable people’s homebound COVID-19 vaccination program, which is currently funded until 31 December 2023.
This service accepts referrals from health care agencies and providers, general practices, and health communities within the catchment for in-reach home visits to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to people who cannot leave their home.
Following representations from NWMPHN, the Department has decided to extend the Secretary Approvals system for another 12 months, until 4 October 2024. The measure was published in the Government Gazette S 530 Thursday, 5 October 2023.
The homebound vaccination program is funded by the Australian Government. It helps ensure protection against COVID-19 for frail aged and elderly residents, and people living with a disability or a mental health condition which prevents them from leaving their home. It also services residential aged care homes.
When a referral is received, a vaccination provider contacts the homebound person (or their nominated carer) to schedule a time for the in-reach visit.
All requests must come through this pathway: Homebound Vaccination Referral form