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Eyecare practitioners and students eligible for vaccine 22 March

Australian optometrists and ophthalmologists, their support staff and students and trainees on placement will be eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine as part of the second wave of a national rollout strategy, commencing 22 March.

According to the latest information from the Federal Government, the second wave – known as Phase 1b – is expected to deliver up to 14.8 million doses, including for up to 953,000 healthcare workers currently employed and not included in Phase 1a.

The government has stipulated that healthcare workers in Phase 1b include:

  • Individuals employed in the medical profession, including allied health professionals, aged care and disability workers.
  • All public and private hospital staff.
  • Healthcare workers in private practice.
  • Community pharmacy staff.
  • Healthcare workers providing in-home and community care, including centre-based care.
  • Workforce supporting medical practitioners in a clinical setting, including students on placement.
  • Onsite administrative staff in healthcare settings.
  • Cleaners, kitchen staff and other ancillary staff in healthcare settings.

A Department of Health spokesperson confirmed to Insight that all staff in a medical facility “such as administrative staff, optical dispensers and students” will be considered eligible as part of the healthcare workers cohort in Phase 1b.

However, they said people working off-site in a corporate facility will not be eligible for this phase of the rollout.

Everyone who identifies as a healthcare worker will be required to demonstrate eligibility by providing proof of occupation, with either an identity card, a letter from an employer or a Phase 1b Declaration Form.

Most individuals in Phase 1b can make a vaccination appointment through the National Booking Service or provider’s own booking system and attend the clinic to be vaccinated.

Younger adults with an underlying condition and high-risk workers like emergency services personnel and meat processing workers will also be vaccinated in Phase 1b, as will Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are over 55, and any adult over 70.

Vaccinations for Phase 1a, the highest priority group but the smallest group in terms of number of doses, is currently under way having commenced on 22 February. Set to deliver up to 1.4 million doses, this group includes frontline health care workers, and aged care and disability care staff, which can include optometrists providing domiciliary services.

A commencement date has not yet been announced for Phase 2a (up to 15.8 million doses), Phase 2b (up to 16 million doses) and Phase 3 (up to 13.6 million doses).

Australians can access their immunisation history, including COVID vaccinations following each dose, through Medicare.

The government’s five-phase national rollout strategy is slated for completion by October, however, health officials this week conceded this deadline may be missed and some adults may need to wait until December for their second jab.

This fact sheet lists the general practices, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services, and GP-led respiratory clinics where COVID-19 vaccinations will be available to people in phase 1b of the rollout.

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