We covered a lot of ground on the COVID-19 vaccines during our last article but we’re sure seniors and their carers may have additional questions about getting the jab. It’s a developing situation after all, so in this instalment we’ll try to give some more answers to essential questions.

Question 1: Am I eligible for the vaccine right now?

The vaccine will be released in phases for those who elect to get the jab. As a senior citizen or aged care worker, you may be prioritised to get the vaccine within Phases 1A through 2A.

For your guidance, here’s a summary of the phases with particular interest for the elderly:

  • PHASE 1A: This includes senior citizens living in aged care residences and disability care facility residents. Staff in these facilities are also prioritised for the vaccine.
  • PHASE 1B: Elderly adults aged 70 and over can get the vaccine in this phase, along with other adults with health records indicating specified medical conditions.
  • PHASE 2A: The COVID-19 vaccine will be administered to adults aged 50 to 69 years.

After these, the COVID-19 vaccine will be given to the rest of the adult population as well as those who were eligible for the previous phases but missed out earlier. The priority groups were decided on based on which populations would be at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 and how they would be affected if they were infected, based on current evidence. That said, the Australian government hopes to make the vaccine accessible to all those who wish to receive it, following the prescribed phases, but it isn’t mandatory.

Please note that the roll-out may be adjusted depending on any new information that may have an impact on the disease, vaccines, and the priority groups so it’s best to stay updated via the Australian Department of Health’s website.

(If you want to check eligibility for yourself or your loved ones, please visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker here.

Question 2: What should I do while waiting for my phase to start?

The most important thing seniors (and everyone else) should do is to maintain COVIDSafe habits. What does that mean exactly?

  • Wash your hands frequently and properly with soap and water.
  • If you’re unable to wash your hands, disinfect them with alcohol-based hand sanitisers (it’s important that they’re alcohol-based).
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Clean and sanitise surfaces and objects that you touch often, especially the ones that are shared like doorknobs, tables, pens, and the like.
  • Maintain physical distancing.
  • Depending on your state or territory’s regulations, you may be required to wear a mask (or you may decide to do so yourself). If you do wear a mask, make sure to do so properly to ensure safety and hygiene.
  • Stay at home as much as possible as the elderly are particularly at-risk for COVID-19. Have food and supplies delivered.
  • If going out cannot be avoided, make sure your phone is equipped with the COVIDSafe app.
  • Speak to a doctor if you develop colds or flu-like symptoms, you can do this through a telemedicine consultation. Get tested for COVID-19 regardless of severity of the severity of your symptoms.
  • If you do have COVID-19, make sure to isolate yourself and follow local public health guidelines.

We also can’t stress enough that you should take the time to check that your Medicare information is accurate and to update it if it isn’t.  You can do this by logging into your account online, downloading the Express Plus Medicare app on your smartphone or calling the Medicare program’s 24/7 number at 132-011. If you don’t have an account, you can sign up here, or if you’re not eligible for the program, you can get an Individual Health Identifier here.

Question 3: How much should I pay for the vaccine?

The good news is that the COVID-19 vaccines will be free for everyone living in Australia. You won’t even need to request for a prescription or register for it. That said, it will be possible to book an appointment later on.

Question 4: Where should I go for my COVID-19 vaccine once my phase has started?

State and territory-run vaccination hubs will administer the COVID-19 vaccines; care facilities vaccinate residents and staff on site. As for the rest of the population, information on specific locations will be released by the states and territories and corresponding local offices. More locations will also be available as supplies become more available in Australia.

If you’re an Australian currently overseas, however, you may need to check with the Australian embassy of the country you’re in for advice.

Question 5: What are the steps involved in the vaccination?

According to the Health Department, these are the procedures we should expect to follow during the vaccination appointment:

  1. Patient screening
  2. First dose of vaccine
  3. Follow-up information will be provided
  4. Vaccination to be recorded in register
  5. Post-vaccination monitoring
  6. Reminder and booking for second dose

The same steps will be followed when the second dose is given at least 21 days after the first dose. It is important to complete both rounds of vaccination. During this period, it’s still of utmost importance to be COVIDSafe as you may not be protected against the disease until seven days after the last dose.

These are just some of the more pressing questions that may need some answering. Rest assured that Kalinga Health will update you as well if new information comes along. That said, please don’t hesitate to direct enquiries the National coronavirus and COVID-19 vaccine helpline for any concerns.

Kalinga Health is your partner in keeping the elderly safe and healthy
The COVID-19 pandemic can bring many difficulties to the elderly and their loved ones. Kalinga Health can provide the needed support and care seniors may need in their day-to-day lives as we navigate the New Normal. Give us a call at +61 435 358 222 or e-mail us at info@kalingahealth.com.a today. We’re here to take your questions and help you find the solution to your home carer needs.