The COVID-19 Pandemic has been global in its reach and infected millions of people. While its health and economic impacts have been devastating, the global cooperation that we have witnessed among scientists and clinicians has been extraordinary.
The process does not stop at identifying an efficacious vaccine. We still have to ensure that there is acceptance of the vaccine by the community, which will involve the active engagement and dissemination of evidence based information. This process needs to start now and continue through the rollout process. The barriers to community acceptance of the vaccine include lack of evidence based information, inconsistent messaging that is not adequately explained, lack of trust in government, media and large organisations. The vaccine will initially be rolled out to high risk groups which will include aged care residents and staff, healthcare workers in hospital and in the community and quarantine hotel workers.
The responsibility for administration of the vaccine fell on a mix of Federal and State jurisdictions. Vaccination delivery and uptake were initially slow but have picked up significantly since July and August, 2021.
Although a vaccine will not be the panacea for COVID-19, it would make a significant contribution to our ability to control the spread of this virus. It will take time to ensure adequate coverage of the population, and in the meantime other public health measures such as hand washing and physical distancing, will still be necessary.
We align with the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) statements on COVID-19 vaccination [Link] and the Aotearoa New Zealand Ministry of Health statements on COVID-19 vaccines [Link].
We recommend that the COVID vaccine be made widely available, with prioritisation of vulnerable patient groups and healthcare workers, and then to the wider population as vaccination is the one of the best public health solutions to overcome the scourge of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
We recommend that a COVID vaccine booster be given to frontline workers when immunity wanes, as advocated by the Centers for Disease Control.
We advocate for consistent public health messaging which ensures community engagement and addresses barriers to uptake.
We advocate for opportunistic vaccinations to be given in ED to our vulnerable populations when they present to ED, as they might not be able to access the vaccine in a timely manner. (Policy on Immunisation)
The following resources were used in the preparation of this section:
- COVID-19 vaccines: Frequently asked questions. National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance. [Link]
- Gilmore B, Ndejjo R, Tchetchia A, de Claro V, Mago E, Diallo AA et al. Community engagement for COVID-19 prevention and control: a rapid evidence synthesis. BMJ Global Health. 2020;5:e003188. [Link]
This section has been developed to assist clinicians with decisions about appropriate healthcare in Emergency Departments in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand during the COVID-19 outbreak. It is a framework for planning and responding to this pandemic, including the assessment and management of patients.
This section is targeted at clinicians only. Patients, parents or other community members using it should do so in conjunction with a health professional and should not rely on the information in the guideline as professional medical advice.
The section has been developed by an expert team of practising emergency physicians, by consensus and based on the best evidence available. The recommendations contained do not indicate an exclusive course of action or standard of care. They do not replace the need for application of clinical judgment to each individual presentation, nor variations based on locality and facility type.
The section is a general document, to be considered having regard to the general circumstances to which it applies at the time of its endorsement.
It is the responsibility of the user to have express regard to the particular circumstances of each case, and the application of the section in each case.
The authors have made considerable efforts to ensure the information upon which it is based is accurate and up to date. However, the situation is rapidly evolving, and a certain amount of pragmatism needs to be employed in maintaining such a ‘living document’. Users of this section are strongly recommended where possible to confirm that the information contained within the document is correct by way of independent sources. The authors accept no responsibility for any inaccuracies, information perceived as misleading, or the success or failure of any treatment regimen detailed. The inclusion of links to external websites does not constitute an endorsement of those websites nor the information or services offered.
The section has been prepared having regard to the information available at the time of preparation and the user should therefore have regard to any information, research or other material which may have been published or become available subsequently.
Whilst we have endeavoured to ensure that professional documents are as current as possible at the time of their creation, we take no responsibility for matters arising from changed circumstances or information or material which may have become available subsequently.
Resources that are relevant to this section can be accessed through the Clinical Guidelines web-based material [Link]. COVID-19 related ACEM Resources [Link], COVID-19 related external resources [Link], and the latest Government advice on COVID-19 [Link] are also available.