Information for Rheumatology Patients
We recommend all our Patients above the age ≥5 years to receive the COVID-19 vaccination to protect against COVID-19 as it is recommended for people who are immunocompromised due to their increased risk of severe illness with COVID-19.
Three COVID-19 vaccines are currently available in Australia – the AstraZeneca (Oxford) vaccine, Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine and Spikevax (Moderna). All are suitable for rheumatology patients whose immune system may not be strong as they are not a “live” vaccine.
*UPDATE*COVID -3RD Primary Dose
As per ATAGI GUIDELINES released on 17/1/22
Do I need a third dose?
The announcement relating to a 3rd doses for the immunocompromised does not relate to all our patients.
Not all people with rheumatological diseases will need a third dose, however ATAGI are recommending a third dose for people who might not have had a complete response to the first two doses due to the use of the following immunosuppressive therapies:
glucocorticoids in high doses (>20mg prednisolone daily) or high-dose intravenous therapy
methotrexate (at higher doses of atleast 0.4mg/kg/week)
azathioprine (at higher doses)
JAK Inhibitors (tofacitinib, baricitinib, Upadacitnib)
Some other treatments or combinations of treatments might also qualify for a third vaccine dose - ask your specialist if you are uncertain.
This recommendation has now been expanded to include severely immunocompromised children aged 5 to 11 years.
Pfizer or Moderna are preferred for the third dose however you can receive AstraZeneca for your third dose if you have already been vaccinated with AstraZeneca or if you have had a significant adverse reaction after a previous Pfizer or Moderna dose.
The third dose is usually given 2-6 months after the second dose of vaccine. The ATAGI recommendations can be found here;
This third dose is considered part of your initial primary dosing schedule and not a booster
People aged 18 years and over with severe immunocompromise who have received 3 primary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are recommended to receive a booster (i.e. 4th dose) at 4 months, in line with the timing for the general population.
You will need to provide a letter outlining your condition from your GP or specialist to be able to access the 3rd dose.
If you meet the criteria below for a booster dose please email email@example.com with your Name, Date of Birth, Copy of your COVID vaccine certificate outlining when you had the first two doses and a sentence stating how you believe you meet the criteria.
If it is deemed that you meet the current criteria a supporting letter will be sent back to you so you can access your booster dose.
COVID Booster dose
Please note that this is different to a 3rd primary dose for the severely immunocompromised
On 24th December 2021 the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) made the following recommendations on the use of a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine:
As soon as practical, ATAGI recommends providing boosters to all eligible adults from a minimum of 3 months following the second dose of the primary course.
Pregnant women aged 18 or older who received their primary COVID-19 vaccination course ≥ 4 months ago are recommended to have a booster dose.
Immunocompromised individuals who are over the age of 18 who have received 3 primary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are also recommended to have a booster dose in line with the timing for the general population, i.e., currently a 4-month interval from their primary course, and when capacity permits, 3 months.
Either Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) are recommended for use as a booster vaccine, and are considered equally acceptable.
Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI), 2021. ATAGI recommendations on the use of a booster dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Canberra: Australian Government -Department of Health, pp.1-6.
COVID Vaccine 5-11year olds
On 5 December 2021, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) provisionally approved the Comirnaty (Pfizer) vaccine for use among 5 to 11-year-old children in Australia.
The TGA’s provisional approval was based on a careful evaluation of available data to support its safety and efficacy among this age group.
Research shows that the Pfizer vaccine is up to 91 per cent effective in children. Parents, carers and guardians can be reassured that by vaccinating their children against COVID-19 they have done everything possible to keep their child safe from this virus.
Children will receive 2 dose of the vaccine, 8 weeks apart. The children’s dose one third of the dose for people aged 12 years and over.
Bookings will be open on 15 December 2021 using the Vaccine Clinic Finder, with appointments available from 10 January 2022.
Children will be able to receive vaccinations through GPs, state and territory-run clinics, pharmacies, Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and Commonwealth Vaccination Centres.
Find a local vaccine provider and book in for an appointment using the Vaccine Clinic Finder. If unable to find a suitable appointment, please check back regularly as more appointments will become available.