A study found that 40% of people for whom the vaccination is recommended were aware of the vaccine, and only 10% were vaccinated, with a perceived lack of risk being the main reported reason for not being vaccinated.69 To increase awareness of Q fever and vaccination among GPs, a new Q fever educational resource has been developed by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM).72 This two-hour online course updates providers on Q fever diagnosis and vaccination and is available for free to all ACRRM members and subscribers. Nonmembers can also enrol for a fee. The module provides education about pathogenesis and the clinical presentation of Q fever, exposure risks in Australia, treatment, prevaccination testing and Q fever vaccination.72
Free catch-up vaccinations are available for all people under 20 years of age and to all refugees and humanitarian entrants regardless of age.4
A web-based immunisation calculator is available through South Australian Health to help clinicians draft a catch-up schedule for children under 10 years of age who have missed or received delayed vaccination (https://immunisationcalculator.sahealth.sa.gov.au/ImmuCalculator.aspx).73 A similar calculator is being developed for the online Australian Immunisation Handbook and checking the catch-up resources on their website (https://immunisationhandbook.health.gov.au/catch-up-vaccination) on a regular basis is strongly recommended.
Adverse events following immunisation
Although vaccines are generally safe, occasionally a patient may experience a reaction following vaccination. Any negative reaction that follows immunisation is considered an adverse event following immunisation (AEFI). The adverse event does not need to be causal for it to be classified as an AEFI and may be any unfavourable or unintended sign or symptom, disease or abnormal laboratory finding. Up to 10% of people can experience a common AEFI such as an injection site reaction, pain or fever.4,74
In the event of a serious, uncommon or rare AEFI, the immunisation provider should seek advice from their local specialist immunisation clinic or contact their state or territory health authorities. This advice is important to determine the relationship of the adverse event to vaccination and the benefit and risks of further vaccination and to ensure the development of a plan for future vaccination. Methods of reporting vary between each state and territory. Information can be found on the NCIRS website
All states and territories offer specialist clinic review for patients who have experienced AEFIs. Most clinics will see children, others will also review adults and some have teleconferencing abilities. Information can be found at www.ncirs.org.au/health-professionals/specialist-immunisation-services.
There are some constants to immunisation such as a comprehensive and methodical immunisation schedule, and nationwide and global immunisation coverage to stop the spread of vaccine-preventable diseases. That said, with novel technology, research and surveillance methods, new vaccines are being developed and tested, and there is the ability for constant review of disease epidemiology, vaccine efficacy and adverse events. Immunisation programs are therefore constantly evolving. As such, we encourage GPs to stay updated and informed using key web resources and tools. Useful resources for GPs on vaccination are summarised in Box 2. MT