COVID-19 Vaccination Rollout Information for Carers: What You Need to Know

Rare Voices Australia (RVA) attended the COVID-19 response update for carers webinar on 23 March 2021. The webinar was hosted by Professor Michael Kidd AM, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Department of Health. Speakers included Liz Callaghan, CEO, Carers Australia; Luke Mansfield, Group Manager, Department of Social Services; and Bridget Carrick, Director, Vaccine Taskforce, Department of Health.

Below, RVA has put together a summary of the information presented during the webinar.

Snapshot update:

  • Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout has commenced in Australia.
  • Both vaccines that have been approved in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (the Pfizer and AstraZenica vaccines) will require two doses.
  • The second dose of the AstraZenica vaccine is given 12 weeks after the first dose.
  • The second dose of the Pfizer vaccine is given three weeks after the first dose.
  • The first dose of each vaccine provides a degree of protection, the second dose provides a sustained degree of protection.
  • Vaccinations are free for everyone living in Australia, as are appointments to receive the vaccination.
  • It is not mandatory in Australia to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
  • No vaccine is available for children at this stage.

What is the definition of a carer?

Under the Australian Government Carer Recognition Act 2010, a carer is someone who gives care and support to a relative or friend who:

  • Has a disability.
  • Has a mental health problem.
  • Has a medical problem (including an ongoing problem or an illness that will end in death).
  • Is frail because they are elderly (known as ‘frail aged’).

You can read more about carers here.

How to check if you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine:

Carers may be eligible to register for the COVID-19 vaccine as the Federal Government commences Phase 1b of the vaccine rollout if they care for:

  • A person with a specified underlying medical condition who is eligible under Phase 1b.
  • A child with a specified underlying medical condition.
  • A resident of an aged care facility or residential disability accommodation who was eligible under Phase 1a.
  • A person 70 years and over who is eligible under Phase 1b.

Step #1:

Check your eligibility. Use the Government’s Vaccine Eligibility Tracker tool.

You can also see which specific underlying medical conditions are included as part of Phase 1b, via this document (go to page 10).

Step #2:

If you are eligible to receive the vaccination as part of Phase 1b, book your appointment via the Vaccine Eligibility Tracker.

If you are unable to find a location that is administering the COVID-19 vaccine close enough to your location, check the Tracker again in a few weeks as more locations will be added shortly.

Step #3:

Note that eligible carers will be required to provide carer documentation or alternatively, to complete an Eligibility Declaration Form and take it with them when getting the vaccine.

In terms of carer documentation, each state and territory will differ in terms of what is considered adequate documentation. Reach out to Carer Gateway if you need assistance with this.

Who to reach out to if you need further assistance:

Carer Gateway is available to assist carers. Reach out to them on 1800 422 737 for assistance with your unique situation.

Will a record of my vaccination be stored?

Yes, your records will be stored in the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR), which you can access at any time via the myGov website. Clinical records will also be stored.

If you do not have access to the internet:

Call Healthdirect Australia: 1800 022 222

If English is not your first language:

The Department of Health has translated a number of COVID-19 information resources that are available on their website.