More clarity on mandatory vaccination reporting

Matt Woodley

23/02/2021 4:12:43 PM

The new laws come into effect next week, and detail has been released on reporting timeframes and requirements for vaccines administered overseas.

A female GP on a computer.
Vaccination providers are required to report relevant vaccinations within 24 hours of administration to the AIR, if practical to do so.

From 1 March, all vaccination providers, including GPs, will need to register every influenza and COVID vaccination on the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR).
According to details tabled in Parliament earlier this week, providers are required to report relevant vaccinations within 24 hours of administration – if practical to do so – and otherwise no later than 10 business days after the vaccine has been administered.
Vaccination providers who repeatedly fail to report administered vaccines within this timeframe result may face a $6660 fine. The requirement, which has been debated in Parliament since November, will expand to include to all vaccinations administered from July.
While the RACGP is broadly supportive of the requirements, it has advocated for an ‘escalating approach’ for providers found to be in breach of the requirements, focused primarily on support and education, rather than punitive measures.
‘There are many reasons which may impact on a GP’s ability to report a vaccine to [the] AIR; temporary technological failure or limitations, lack of consent from the patient, or workforce shortages,’ former Acting RACGP President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda wrote in a submission before the legislation passed into law.
‘GPs and general practices must not be penalised or prevented from providing future vaccines under these circumstances.
‘Instead, the focus should be on identifying the reason for under-reporting and finding solutions to improve reporting levels.’
Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt told Parliament last year that fines will only be imposed as a last resort and that education is the first option.
‘It is conceivable that vaccination providers who have failed to report a single vaccination event and are otherwise compliant with legislation are likely to have experienced isolated issues,’ he said.
‘In such circumstances, education and support will be provided in the first instance.’
Concerns had also been raised about reporting requirements for vaccines administered overseas, but the new information has since clarified that while providers are able to register these vaccinations with the AIR, it is not a requirement.
The new amendment states that the following information must be reported to the AIR:

  • the name, contact details, date of birth and gender of the vaccine recipient
  • the patient’s Medicare number, if they have one
  • the healthcare identifier (within the meaning of the Healthcare Identifiers Act 2010), if known and applicable
  • identification information for the provider who administers the vaccine
  • the day of the vaccination
  • the brand, dose number and batch number of the administered vaccine
  • the vial serial number of the administered COVID vaccine (if known). 
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Dr Robert William Micallef   24/02/2021 8:18:30 AM

Interestingly no discussion about patient privacy concerns or patient consent. As we have seen many people have opted out of the my health records. I can see some who would not want their vaccine history being disclosed especially when it comes to private vaccines that are susbsidised by government.