11 January 2023                                                                                  View this email in your browser

This update provides information to help primary care providers tackle current challenges, including COVID-19. Submissions can be sent to

This is the first Primary Care Update for 2023. View previous editions here.

GP-led Respiratory Clinic Panel Program
The Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care is inviting up to 150 existing and accredited general practices to apply to be part of the GPRCP Program. The program is a panel arrangement and aims to ensure there is surge capacity available to respond to subsequent COVID-19 waves or future respiratory health emergencies.

Key dates

  • 5 January - Release of Request for Tender on AusTender
  • 19 January, 2pm - Enquiry cut-off (including extension request)
  • 2 February, 2pm - Closing time (for responses)
If you would like to become a GPRCP that is held in reserve for periods of need from March 2023, click here to learn more.

Mosquito borne diseases
The Victorian Department of Health has advised that Ross River virus and Barmah Forest virus detections in mosquitoes have been increasing in rural and regional Victoria. 

A case of Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus infection has also recently been identified in a resident from the Campaspe local government area - the first identified case in Victoria this mosquito season. Clinicians must consider and test for JE virus in patients with a compatible illness and notify the Department immediately of suspected cases by calling 1300 651 160 (24 hours). For more information click here and see below.

New South Wales and South Australia have also recently reported their first cases of JE virus infection.

Additional resources: 

Flood recovery

  • Focus on Emergency Response is a quick-reference resource for health staff and includes links to relevant clinical pathways.
  • The Disaster Response Network (DRN) is a national network of Australian Psychological Society psychologists who volunteer to help those affected by disasters. Email to access support for front-line workers.
  • General practice staff and their immediate family members can access Murray PHN's confidential Employee Assistance Program for free support. Call 1300 361 008 (24/7) and quote Murray PHN General Practice.

Japanese Encephalitis (JE) Virus

Stock of JE vaccines remains limited. Contact for assistance with vaccine ordering.

Vaccine breaches
To avoid vaccination errors, please ask every question on the eligibility checklist to ensure the correct vaccine is chosen. If you are unsure which vaccine to administer, do not vaccinate and refer the individual to a medical practitioner.
The Department has provided mandatory eLearning. Pharmacists and nurse immunisers must complete online training before administering JE vaccines

Reporting vaccinations
Recent changes to the Australian Immunisation Register Rule 2015 (AIR Rule) means that it is now mandatory for all vaccination providers to report Japanese encephalitis vaccines to the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).

Please enter the correct brand of vaccine and not the generic name as well as route of administration (ID vs SC). Reporting these vaccinations to the AIR means that the register contains a complete and reliable dataset and can monitor immunisation coverage and administration. It also means that individuals have a complete record of their vaccinations. More information for Victorian immunisation providers can be found here.

The vaccine is free for eligible people and general practices are encouraged to bulk bill for the service whenever possible. Further information is provided in this factsheet.

Local councils are now providing JE vaccinations as part of their vaccination program:

General practice and pharmacy providers of the vaccine in the Murray PHN region can be found here. The Loddon Mallee Public Health Unit continues to provide JE vaccines through outreach clinics. Please call ahead to ensure stock is on hand. 

COVID vaccination provider bulletin 16 December

Update to Pfizer Bivalent

As outlined in the bulletin, ATAGI clinical guidance has been updated to include advice on administration errors related to Pfizer 6 months – 4 years vaccine. 

Training modules for Pfizer (Maroon) Additional Module 4a: Pfizer 6 month – 4 years (Maroon) vaccine and Pfizer Bivalent (Original/Omicron BA.1) accessible through Additional Module 1a: Pfizer Bivalent (Grey) are now available.

Note: Pfizer (Maroon) 6 month – 4 years vaccine requires dilution whereas Pfizer Bivalent does not. Both have longer thaw use-by dates (10 weeks). 

AIR updates
On 3 December 2022, the AIR042A - COVID-19 Vaccination Status Report, became unavailable due to system updates. Vaccination providers can still access and view reports they requested prior to this time. If providers urgently require access to information while it is unavailable, email It is anticipated that the enhanced AIR042A report will be available again from March

National COVID Health Management Plan
A reminder that this year's COVID-19 vaccination program, as outlined in the National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023 released in December, will include:

  • A streamlined and simplified system of MBS items as outlined in the 12 December bulletin
  • Maintenance of the existing remote supervision MBS items
  • An increased flag fall item to support vaccination in-reach for aged and disability care residents (the existing PIP in-reach incentive will be extended to 31 January 2023 to cover the transition to the increase)
  • The Vaccine Administration Partners Program (VAPP) will continue to provide vaccinations where primary care availability is limited
  • The Vulnerable Vaccination Program will continue to 31 December 2023. This funding enables PHNs to continue supporting primary care providers to develop and implement innovative vaccination activities which are tailored to the needs of local priority populations.

COVID-19 testing
Victoria’s state-run PCR testing sites closed on 31 December 2022, due to increased demand for rapid antigen tests (RATs). Local councils currently providing free RATs to eligible members of the community have been supported to provide free RATs to all Victorians until June 2023. People who require a PCR test now need to visit a GP respiratory clinic or have a GP referral to a private pathology provider. For more on testing click here.

COVID-19 antivirals
Since mid-2022, Healthdirect has assisted COVID positive people in Victoria and NSW connect to their GP for antiviral treatment assessment and prescription. Healthdirect notifies the consumer via text message to call their GP if they may be potentially eligible for antivirals, and also has notified their GP or GPRC by secure messaging of the patient status. This secure message to GPs and GPRCs was followed up with a phone call. In response to feedback and successful implementation of secure messaging for this program, the follow up call is no longer needed and ceased on 1 January 2023. 

Support for homebound individuals
Murray PHN can help to engage a primary care vaccine provider for homebound patients. Click here for eligibility criteria and referral. For more:

Vaccination clinics
Local primary care vaccination providers are available here

GP respiratory clinics
GPRCs provide free care for Victorians with respiratory symptoms. If your health service is located near Wodonga and lacks capacity or adequate PPE to manage patients with respiratory symptoms, please refer them to:

  • Wodonga Respiratory Clinic (Central Medical), 224-226 Beechworth Road, Ph: 02 6067 2437 - click here for opening hours and bookings.

Supporting the disability sector
Murray PHN is helping disability providers and liaison officers to engage primary care providers for in-reach vaccinations. If your practice can assist, email:

Practices can also access support and resources from disability liaison officers in: 

Education and training

Online learning

Recorded webinars

New and updated resources

Copyright © 2023 Murray PHN, All rights reserved.

Murray PHN acknowledges its catchment crosses over many unceded First Nations Countries, following the Dhelkunya Yaluk (Healing River).
We pay our respects and give thanks to the Ancestors, Elders and Young people for their nurturing, protection and caregiving of these sacred lands and waterways, acknowledging their continuing cultural, spiritual and educational practices.
We are grateful for the sharing of Country and the renewal that Country gives us. We acknowledge and express our sorrow that this sharing has come at a personal, spiritual and cultural cost to the wellbeing of First Nations peoples. We commit to addressing the injustices of colonisation across our catchment, and to listening to the wisdom of First Nations communities who hold the knowledge to enable healing.
We extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Murray PHN (ABN 92 156 423 755) acknowledges the financial and other support from the Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing.

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Murray PHN · 3-5 View Point · Bendigo, Vic 3550 · Australia