The Department of Health has released further details about the Phase 1b roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccination program, including a list of healthcare centres, clinics and GP practices that may begin administering the COVID-19 vaccine from next Monday 22nd March 2021. Phase 1b includes people with an underlying medical condition, including MS.
We anticipate that some patience may be required during this phase, especially as the early complex logistical details are resolved. It will likely take months for this large phase of the roll-out to be completed. This phase includes over 6 million people, including the elderly, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, young people with underlying medical conditions, and critical and high-risk workers. Further details about the groups included in Phase 1b can be found here and the full list of centres now approved to administer the vaccine can be found here. (Please note that this list is long and not alphabetised, but can be searched using the “Find” command in either the Word document or pdf versions available for download.)
Although the list of GP practices for Phase 1b is extensive, there will be many people living with MS who will not find their own GP or local centre listed. It is anticipated that many more practices will be added over the coming weeks, so you should recheck the site from time to time. Although not known at this moment, the location of state vaccination centres for the roll-out of Phase 1b will likely be made publicly available as the roll-out commences. At present, bookings can be made at listed practices by going through the Department of Health online eligibility checker, which will firstly assess your eligibility, with the option to then make a vaccination booking if you are eligible and if there are appointments available. Check your eligibility here.
The vaccinators have an obligation to check that you are in the category currently open for vaccination. To provide proof of your MS diagnosis, your GP’s clinical records are acceptable if you are being vaccinated at your usual practice. Alternative forms of evidence if you are attending another centre include your MyHealth record, a referral from your GP or Specialist, or alternative medical records including a printout of your medical history, a printout of your chronic disease care plan, a discharge summary listing your diagnosis, or a valid prescription or medication prescribed to treat your MS. If none of these options are available to you, a Phase 1b declaration form will be available for you to fill out, becoming available from the 22nd March 2021 at www.health.gov.au.
As new information comes to hand over the coming weeks as the roll-out of Phase 1b commences, we will update the MS Australia and MS Research Australia COVID-19 pages accordingly, which you can find here and here.
As always, your medical team (Neurologist, MS Nurse, GP) is still your primary source of contact for any concerns or specific questions you may have about COVID-19, vaccinations and timing of MS treatments and other medicines.