With the increasing risk posed by the Omicron variant and the need to increase workforce capacity to meet demand for COVID-19 boosters in Victorian state-run vaccination sites, the Acting Secretary to the Department of Health, Jacinda de Witts, has issued a time-limited Public Health Emergency Order (PHEO) authorising a “Limited Scope COVID-19 Vaccinator” class of persons to undertake specified authorised COVID-19 vaccination activities.
Under section 22D of the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981 (Vic), the PHEO authorises Limited Scope COVID-19 Vaccinators to undertake authorised COVID-19 vaccination activities for a period of six months, unless revoked earlier.
The authorisation of a Limited Scope COVID-19 Vaccinator provides health services with the flexibility to select from a broader range of suitable candidates, whether they be existing health service personnel or newly engaged additional workers, to support Victoria's COVID-19 vaccination efforts.
Selection criteria, key responsibilities, and limited scope duties of the role are defined in a position description template which is included as an Appendix to the Victorian COVID-19 Vaccination Guidelines. Compliance with these guidelines is a condition of the PHEO.
Following mandatory training and assessment, the new Limited Scope COVID-19 Vaccinator will be authorised to prepare and administer the COVID-19 vaccine in Victorian state-run vaccination services. They will not be authorised to administer the COVID-19 vaccine to people under the age of 18 years and will not be responsible for establishing patient consent or managing adverse events.
Introduction of a trained and competent Limited Scope COVID-19 Vaccinator role will complement and support the existing vaccination workforce in state-run vaccination services by increasing capacity and helping to redistribute system and workforce pressures across a broader range of professions.
Limited Scope COVID-19 Vaccinators will be required to successfully complete mandatory Commonwealth and Victorian COVID-19 vaccination training (which is equivalent to COVID-19 vaccine training requirements for other emergency authorised vaccination workforces). They will also complete a clinical skills and competency assessment to ensure they are skilled and competent to undertake the authorised activities.
The role will operate under the ratio-based supervision of a “supervising authorised immuniser” who has relevant skills and experience in the technical aspects of vaccination. Qualified and experienced personnel oversee the clinical governance and day-to-day operations of state-run vaccination services and ensure there are sufficient, experienced authorised immunisation staff on site to provide support and meet required ratios.
A copy of the PHEO has been published in Special Gazette No. S 6 Friday, 7 January 2022, at the following link: http://www.gazette.vic.gov.au/gazette/Gazettes2022/GG2022S006.pdf.
The current Victorian COVID-19 Vaccination Guidelines, which include the position description (Appendix 33) and details regarding training and supervision requirements for Limited Scope COVID-19 vaccinators, is available at the following link: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/victorian-covid-19-vaccination-guidelines.
Queries or comments regarding the authorisations can be forwarded to the COVID-19 Vaccination team at: COVIDvaccination@health.vic.gov.au