5 October 2022                                                                                   View this email in your browser

This Primary Care Update expands on the previous COVAX updates to include a broader range of information to support current challenges faced by primary care providers. If you have items to share across the network, please send them to

Please forward this update to any colleagues who may be interested and view previous editions here.

Prepare for a flood emergency
The Bureau of Meteorology has issued flood warnings for Victoria and NSW rivers, in and surrounding the Murray PHN region. With heavy rain forecast this week, now is a good time to review your emergency response plan.

The Murray HealthPathway Preparing Patients for a Disaster provides practical suggestions around managing medications, emergency alert systems and disaster plans for people who live with chronic disease.

In addition to stocking up on essential supplies, other key things to plan for are:

  • Power and internet outages
  • Disruption to clean water and gas supplies
  • Where vulnerable populations are and if they will be able to access services and medications.
If you are a Victorian general practice, part of your plan can include the cloud-based Emergency Response Planning Tool (ERPT), which has been developed in conjunction with the RACGP, to help prepare for, respond to and recover from the impacts of emergencies and pandemics. The Victorian Department of Health is providing free access until 31 December 2023. If you need support to access the ERPT email your local quality improvement consultant or email

COVID vaccination provider bulletin 29 Sept

Moderna Bivalent vaccine

Training module
A module for Moderna bivalent has been added to the COVID-19 vaccination training program. All staff involved in receiving delivery of, or administering Moderna Bivalent, are required to complete the relevant training modules prior to accepting delivery.

Primary care vaccine providers are reminded that the Moderna bivalent booster can be used in people aged 18 years and older for the first or second booster dose (i.e. the third or fourth dose for most people), according to the current ATAGI recommendations for booster doses.

The Commonwealth has produced a FAQ document to help answer queries on Moderna bivalent and booster doses in general, including:

  • Who can have the Moderna bivalent booster?
  • If Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 are the dominant circulating subvariants, why are you recommending a new vaccine that has Omicron BA.1?
  • I haven’t yet had a dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Can I have the new Moderna bivalent booster as my primary course?
  • My child is due for their booster dose, can they have the Moderna bivalent booster?
  • Is the Moderna bivalent booster recommended for people with severe immunocompromise?

Read the full FAQ document here.

The Moderna bivalent vaccine has been added to the Vaccine Comparison Poster. Recent changes to Pfizer and AZ storage times have also been added.

Change to Pfizer 12+ transport limit
The TGA has updated the Pfizer 12+ vaccine Product Information (PI), with an extension of transport time under refrigeration (2°C to 8°C) from 12 hours to 48 hours for thawed vaccine. There have been no changes to transport limits for frozen vaccine.

VOC operating hours
VOC operating hours have changed to: 

  • 8.30am-7pm, Monday to Friday
  • 9am-3pm on Saturdays
  • CLOSED Sunday.

VOC can also be contacted via email:

Victorian COVID-19 vaccination sites
As the majority of people are accessing vaccinations at GPs and pharmacies, all state-funded, fixed vaccination sites in Victoria are now closed. Victoria’s vaccination program will continue, but will be more targeted, focusing on specialist paediatric and mobile vaccination clinics. See the ‘Local outreach vaccination and testing clinics’ section below for details on upcoming clinics.

Japanese Encephalitis Virus (JEV)
The Ovens Murray Public Health Unit, in conjunction with the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance and the Victorian Department of Health is conducting a study on Japanese Encephalitis in Northern Victoria. This study will help in understanding how widely JEV has spread, how many people have been infected, who is more likely to be infected and determine who should be prioritised for vaccination and other prevention activities.

If you have a patient who would like to be involved, click here to access the consent form and questionnaire. For further information, contact Ovens Murray Public Health Unit e: or t: 02 6048 1000.

Providers of the vaccine in the Murray PHN region can be found here and local public health units are also providing JEV vaccines. Please call ahead to ensure stock on hand.  

The Victorian Department of Health webpages include information for health professionals and the public. A social media pack for the promotion of prevention messages to community is also available.

Support for homebound individuals
If you have a homebound patient, Murray PHN can help to engage a local primary care vaccine provider or apply to the Commonwealth for a VAPP provider to be allocated.
Click here to see eligibility criteria and complete a referral form or for further information, contact Emma Healion t: 0437 616 877 or e:

Local outreach vaccination and testing clinics
Upcoming clinics in the Murray PHN catchment:   
  • Bendigo Health is providing vaccination clinics for COVID, Influenza and JE at Rochester and Elmore District Health Service on 25 October and 8 November – more information here
  • GV Health COVID-19 vaccination buses are also providing Influenza and JE vaccines to those who meet eligibility criteria.
  • Bendigo Health Covid Clinic is open 10am-5.30pm, Tuesday to Saturday. 
  • Ovens Murray PHU vaccination clinics – COVID-19, influenza and JE vaccines are available at the Wodonga site (corner of Smythe and Stanley streets) on Thursdays and Fridays from 8.30am to 4pm. Outreach clinics will be operating across the region on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays – dates and times in the link above.
To promote vaccination outreach clinics or events, e:

Local vaccination providers
Details of local general practices, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisations and pharmacies providing COVID-19 and influenza vaccinations are available on Murray PHN's website. If you wish to opt-out, e:

Note: Sites listed on our website are those classified as ACTIVE by the Commonwealth. Where specific vaccines are classified as DORMANT (no orders and <10 total administrations in the last 4 weeks) those vaccines have been removed.

COVID care in the community 
The COVID-19 Positive Community Care and Treatment pathway supports health professionals in the management of COVID-positive adults in the community, including in aged and disability care facilities. It contains information on the prescription of antivirals and the Murray PHN funded face-to-face home assessment and monitoring service.

If you have a patient who is located in Albury, Towong, Bendigo, Heathcote, Quambatook/Pyramid Hill, Kerang or Robinvale who has a positive COVID result and is managing their symptoms at home but requires escalation of care to avoid hospitalisation, they may be eligible for this service - view the referral section of the pathway for details

COVID+ pathways
The COVID Positive Pathways Program is delivered by Victorian health services, through community health services and hospitals, in collaboration with Aboriginal health services and other providers, and coordinated by the Victorian Department of Health. The program will continue to support all people living with COVID to manage symptoms, access care and to be COVID-safe.

While the program continues to connect most people with usual care, changes that came into effect on 30 September mean that the program now primarily focuses on supporting those who experience barriers to accessing care or need support to recover, including the following priority population groups:

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders
  • People aged 80 years or older
  • People living with a disability or a carer of a person living with a disability
  • People needing assistance to isolate safely at home
  • People living in rural isolated communities
  • People of refugee or asylum seeker status.
People who test positive by PCR will be sent a link via SMS to complete a new assessment survey to allocate them into usual-care or the COVID Positive Pathways Program. Please encourage patients who test positive by rapid antigen test to register their result via this online form or by calling the Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

Health Service Partnerships (HSPs) will play an important role to support integration and escalation pathways between health services and primary care. An overview of the Covid Positive Pathways for the Murray PHN region is available here.

GPs can contact their regional COVID Positive Pathways program if they are concerned about a COVID positive patient to discuss whether monitoring, care and social support through the program is appropriate. To access the 'Factsheet for Referrers' contact

Further resources can be found on the Victorian Department of Health website here.

COVID-19 antivirals
The Victorian Virtual Emergency Department (VVED) can prescribe COVID-19 antivirals to Victorians who return a positive result and can’t get a GP appointment or access a GP respiratory clinic. The VVED can assess patients, determine their eligibility for COVID-19 medications, and prescribe these medications. More information can be accessed in flyers for healthcare professionals and patients.

Practices and pharmacies are encouraged to proactively identify at-risk patients and put plans in place to support their access to timely care, including antiviral and other early therapies if they contract COVID-19, influenza or other respiratory viruses.

For resources including a list of local dispensing pharmacies (updated 29 August), visit Murray PHN's antiviral webpage.

Changes to isolation periods
From 14 October, people are no longer required to isolate if they test positive for COVID-19. For more information you can read the full National Cabinet statement here.

Primary care settings are entitled to set their own policies for staff and patients who test positive and mask mandates remain in place for health facilities in NSW and Victoria.

Supporting the disability sector

Disability providers and liaison officers have been advised to contact Murray PHN for assistance with engaging local primary care providers to offer in-reach vaccinations or to request Commonwealth in-reach. If your practice is able to assist with in-reach or homebound vaccinations, e:

Primary care vaccine providers can access support and resources from Disability Liaison Officers to enable people with disability to access COVID-19 vaccination at their site in: 

For additional vaccination information for specific groups, click here.

Mildura helpline for former Tristar patients

The Mildura Helpline will be available until 4pm, next Friday, 14 October. Until then, former Tristar Mildura patients can continue to call the Mildura Helpline for care advice and information on 1800 191 663 daily, between 8am-4pm. Once a nurse has assessed symptoms, people may be eligible to receive a call back from a GP. For more information and links to local and other supports, click here.

Education and training

Online learning

Recorded webinars

Communication and engagement

  • Murray PHN's 'It Starts With You' Campaign' supports health services, organisations and community groups to raise awareness of the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19. Click here to download the campaign materials.

New and updated resources

Further assistance

Copyright © 2022 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.

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