Information updates

Third COVID-19 vaccine dose recommended for people who are severely immunocompromised

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) has released a statement, prepared in consultation with ASCIA, which recommends a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine for people who are severely immunocompromised. This includes people with primary immunodeficiencies (PID). The ATAGI statement is available at:

https://www.health.gov.au/news/atagi-statement-on-the-use-of-a-3rd-primary-dose-of-covid-19-vaccine-in-individuals-who-are-severely-immunocompromised

The following ASCIA documents have been updated to include the ATAGI recommendations:

The recommended interval for the third dose is two to six months after the second dose of vaccine. People with PID who had a second dose more than six months ago should receive a third dose whenever this is feasible.

In summary the ATAGI recommendations state that a third primary dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is recommended for people with the following immunocompromising conditions and/or therapies:

  • Primary immunodeficiency (PID) including combined immunodeficiency and syndromes, major antibody deficiency (e.g. common variable immune deficiency (CVID) or agammaglobulinemia), defects of innate immunity (including phagocytic cells), defects of immune regulation, complement deficiencies and phenocopies of primary immunodeficiencies.
  • Some immunosuppressive therapies.
  • Haematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients or chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapy within 2 years of transplantation.
  • Solid organ transplant with immunosuppressive therapy.
  • Active haematological malignancy.
  • Non-haematological malignancy with current active treatment excluding immunotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors.
  • Advanced or untreated HIV with CD4 counts <250/μL or those with a higher CD4 count unable to be established on effective antiretroviral therapy.
  • Long term haemodialysis or peritoneal dialysis.

ASCIA will continue to provide advice to ATAGI on the use of COVID-19 vaccines in people who are severely immunocompromised. 

ASCIA will also continue to update ASCIA COVID-19 information as recommendations and restrictions evolve.

In anticipation of lockdowns easing the following updated pictorial checklist has been developed, which is included in the COVID-19 and Immunodeficiency FAQ:

The following ASCIA COVID-19 information has also been recently updated, to include the Moderna Spikevax vaccine:

 

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New allergy guidelines for schools and children's education/care

Best practice guidelines for prevention of severe allergic reactions (anaphylaxis) in schools and children's education/care (CEC) services were launched on Thursday 7 October 2021. The Guidelines were developed by the National Allergy Strategy (NAS), a partnership between ASCIA and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA).  

The Guidelines are available on a new anaphylaxis resource hub for schools and CEC services https://www.allergyaware.org.au/ and can also be accessed on the ASCIA website https://www.allergy.org.au/schools-childcare

ASCIA and A&AA contributed to the NAS resources and also updated or developed online resources and training courses to include and support the best practice guidelines. This has been a great collaboration and team effort by NAS, ASCIA, A&AA and stakeholders, to achieve nationally accepted best practice guidelines.

The virtual launch was well attended by stakeholders and media. The feedback was extremely positive, and there was significant media coverage, including the following media stories:

Today show – https://www.facebook.com/page/130834060284601/search/?q=nuts
9 News - https://www.9news.com.au/national/nut-ban-could-be-scrapped-at-australian-schools-due-to-new-allergy-guidelines/75a90fff-a5e1-46e0-b690-9ec57d06313d
ABC news - https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-10-07/food-allergy-guidelines-recommend-education-not-bans/100520428
7 news - https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/health-wellbeing/new-guidelines-say-education-not-bans-the-key-to-managing-food-allergies-c-4174123
SMH - https://www.smh.com.au/national/food-bans-in-schools-discouraged-in-new-allergy-strategy-20211006-p58xmn.html
Daily telegraph - https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/banning-the-ban-why-nuts-could-be-allowed-back-in-schools/news-story/836d93431ae0112437c453bb76171117

Media Release - New allergy guidelines to protect children from severe allergic reactions in schools and childcare

Food allergy and anaphylaxis is increasing in Australian children, with up to 1 in 20 school aged children having food allergies [1]. Anaphylaxis is the most severe form of allergic reaction, and the incidence of food-induced anaphylaxis in Australia has risen rapidly over the last decade [2]. New guidelines and resources from the National Allergy Strategy aim to equip schools and children’s education and care (CEC) settings to prevent and manage anaphylaxis.

The National Allergy Strategy has launched best practice guidelines for the prevention and management of anaphylaxis in schools and children’s education and care, including out of school hours care. Developed in consultation with key stakeholder organisations, staff working in the sector and parents, the guidelines are important resources in providing evidence-based information and support to reduce the risk of anaphylaxis, while also enabling children to participate in all activities.

“The reality is that severe allergy and the risk of anaphylaxis is common in the school and children’s education and care settings. Children with known allergies that are at risk of anaphylaxis may have severe reactions, but they can also occur in children not previously known to be at risk of anaphylaxis,” stated Maria Said, Co-chair of the National Allergy Strategy and CEO of Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia (A&AA). “The new guidelines and supporting resources provide much-needed clarity around best practice.”

“Australia is a leader in this area, however a review of school policies and guidelines across Australian states and territories showed inconsistencies in anaphylaxis prevention and emergency treatment, particularly around the amount and frequency of staff training and incident reporting [1]. These variations create confusion and anxiety for parents and educators in schools, and ultimately put children’s safety at risk. While the sectors have a lot of demands on them, no one wants to live with a tragic incident that could have been prevented,” continued Ms Said.

In schools, there is currently no national mandated approach to training staff in the prevention, recognition and emergency treatment of anaphylaxis and significant variations exist in the approach between jurisdictions and government and non-government school sectors.

In children’s education and care services, the minimum requirements are less than what is required in schools and there is greater variation in the type and amount of training being undertaken. Research has shown that 1 in 10 participating services reported no requirement for staff to undertake anaphylaxis training, which is non- compliant with current national regulations [3]. Staff responsible for preparing, serving and supervising meals in children’s education and care services also have a responsibility for food allergy management, yet there is no requirement for them to undertake food service allergen management training.

To support the adoption of the guidelines, the National Allergy Strategy has also developed a new ‘Allergy Aware’ online hub for staff working in schools and CEC, providing free, evidence-based resources including an Implementation Guide, templates and sample documents, plus links to state and territory specific information. The Allergy Aware hub also includes sections for parents and older students.

Dr Preeti Joshi, a paediatric clinical immunology/allergy specialist and Co-chair of the National Allergy Strategy, says the new guidelines and supporting resources outline what is reasonable and what works.

“It is important to embed consistent standards across all of the environments where children receive care so that everyone is informed and knows what is appropriate and reasonable. As an example, the guidelines might give a school the confidence to discuss appropriate allergy management with a concerned parent, or help a parent discuss what reasonable strategies a school or childcare service should have in place,” said Dr Joshi.

“Trying to completely ban food allergens in these settings simply does not work and is near impossible to enforce. It is not safe or practical to rely on people to not bring food allergens, of which there are many, into a certain environment. A consistent allergy aware approach with age-appropriate strategies is preferred. This includes ensuring staff are adequately trained, especially in the prompt recognition and treatment of an allergic reaction including anaphylaxis,” continued Dr Joshi.

“In addition, a range of appropriate risk minimisation strategies alongside good supervision and open communication is important. Things such as timely administration of adrenaline and correct positioning of the person experiencing anaphylaxis are key factors that can potentially save lives. Standardised reporting of incidents is also critical so we can learn where the gaps are and then work to increase safety. We are prevented from learning and improving after incidents because currently it is not mandatory to report them in schools and childcare services across Australia.”

The guidelines can also be used by overarching education and children’s education and care bodies, when reviewing and updating state and territory legislation, guidelines, policies and procedures to improve standardisation of anaphylaxis management across Australia.

Dr Katie Allen MP, food allergy expert and Member for Higgins – “Australia does not take a back seat when it comes to safety from anaphylaxis in schools and children’s education and care. These guidelines ensure that best practice is standardised across each state and territory. I welcome the work of the National Allergy Strategy in making these guidelines a reality”

The new guidelines and supporting resources are available at www.allergyaware.org.au.

pdfNAS Best practice guidlenes media release226.19 KB

- ENDS -  

About the National Allergy Strategy
The National Allergy Strategy (NAS) aims to improve the health and quality of life of Australians with allergic diseases and minimise the burden of allergic diseases on individuals, carers, healthcare services and the community. The NAS is a partnership between the Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy (ASCIA) and Allergy & Anaphylaxis Australia, the leading medical and patient organisations for allergy in Australia. For more information about the NAS go to: www.nationalallergystrategy.org.au

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COVID-19 vaccination digital certificates

As stated in the ASCIA COVID-19 Vaccination FAQ 20, COVID-19 vaccines are recorded in an individual’s Immunisation History Statement in Australia, and on the National COVID-19 Immunisation Register (CIR) in New Zealand.

Further information about digital certificates to show proof of COVID-19 vaccination in Australia

In Australia you can obtain proof of your vaccinations recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register from different government sources, including My Health Record.

The COVID-19 digital certificate shows your COVID-19 vaccinations, and is only available after you have had all required doses of a vaccine approved for use in Australia. Your vaccination provider will add all your doses to the Australian Immunisation Register before you can get your certificate.

How you get proof depends on your situation. This includes if you need to create a myGov account, link services or enrol in Medicare. Find the best way to get proof of your COVID-19 vaccinations for your situation.

To obtain COVID-19 vaccination proof through My Health Record you need to link it to your myGov account. The National Allergy Strategy has developed a fact sheet to explain how to get set up with My Health Record. For more information on where to find proof of vaccination in your record visit the Australian Digital Health Agency website.

Useful websites

Australia: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/medicare/australian-immunisation-register/how-get-immunisation-history-statement

New Zealand: https://covid19.govt.nz/covid-19-vaccines/how-to-get-a-covid-19-vaccination/book-your-covid-19-vaccination/getting-proof-of-your-vaccination/

Updated ASCIA eczema resources

ASCIA has recently updated its online eczema (atopic dermatitis) resources to assist health professionals and patients/carers to treat and manage eczema. These resources now include information about treatment of severe eczema using immune modulating treatments.

The following updated resources are now on the ASCIA website:

ASCIA online eczema resources have been developed to assist with:

  • Treatment of severe eczema (including the use of immune modulating treatments) and eczema flares.
  • Ongoing management of eczema, including maintaining skin to prevent or minimise eczema flares.
  • Providing accessible, consistent and evidence-based information from a reliable source.

Each month there are around 1,500 downloads of ASCIA online eczema resources. ASCIA will continue to review and update these resources as new information is available.

*ReadSpeaker is available on the ASCIA webpages for patients, consumers and carers, to improve access for people with:

  • Vision impairment, limited reading ability or learning disabilities, by allowing text to speech (TTS).
  • Non-English speaking backgrounds - information can be translated into 20 different languages by highlighting the text and selecting 'translate’.

 

Updated ASCIA anaphylaxis resources

Over the past year ASCIA has updated and developed more than 24 online resources and 10 e-training courses to assist in the emergency treatment and management of anaphylaxis (severe allergic reactions).

Each year ASCIA online anaphylaxis resources are viewed more than 500,000 times and there are more than 100,000 registrations for the ASCIA anaphylaxis e-training courses.

The latest resources to be updated are ASCIA anaphylaxis checklists and e-training courses for prescribers (doctors and nurse practitioners), pharmacists and patients/carers, which now include information about two brands of adrenaline injectors, EpiPen® and Anapen®:

  • EpiPen® (300 mcg) and EpiPen® Jr (150 mcg) are available in Australia on the PBS, and in New Zealand.
  • Anapen® 500, Anapen® 300 and Anapen® 150 are available in Australia on the PBS.

Adrenaline injectors are prescribed as follows:

  • 150 mcg devices for children weighing 7.5 to 20kg.
  • 300 mcg devices for children weighing over 20kg and adults, including pregnant women.
  • 500 mcg or 300 mcg devices for children weighing over 50kg and adults, including pregnant women.

ASCIA has developed checklists to assist health professionals and patients/carers in the following ways:

Updated ASCIA anaphylaxis resources and e-training courses are available at www.allergy.org.au/anaphylaxis

ASCIA anaphylaxis education and training resources have been developed to assist with:

  • Prevention of anaphylaxis, including strategies to avoid exposure to allergens.
  • Emergency treatment of anaphylaxis, to prevent unnecessary death or disability.
  • Providing accessible, consistent and evidence-based information from a reliable source.

*ReadSpeaker is available on the ASCIA webpages for patients, consumers and carers, to improve access for people with:

  • Vision impairment, limited reading ability or learning disabilities, by allowing text to speech (TTS).
  • Non-English speaking backgrounds - information can be translated into 20 different languages by highlighting the text and selecting 'translate’.

ASCIA will continue to review and update anaphylaxis resources and e-training courses as new information is available. 

Updated ASCIA COVID-19 Information

ASCIA Allergy, Immunodeficiency, Autoimmunity and COVID-19 Vaccination - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) for patients, consumers and carers has been updated In response to the arrival of the Moderna Spikevax vaccine in Australia and is available open access at www.allergy.org.au/patients/ascia-covid-19-vaccination-faq

ASCIA develops and updates this FAQ as a service to ASCIA members and the public for the following reasons:

  • COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia and New Zealand are effective and safe for people with allergies, immunodeficiencies or autoimmune conditions, as they are not live-attenuated vaccines and do not contain food allergens.
  • COVID-19 vaccination is an important way to reduce the risk of developing disease and spreading COVID-19 in the community.
  • COVID-19 vaccination information needs to be accessible, consistent, evidence-based and from a reliable source.

ASCIA Allergy, Immunodeficiency, Autoimmunity and COVID-19 Vaccination FAQ has been viewed around 100,000 times since it was first published in February 2021, including more than 33,000 views in August 2021. ASCIA will continue to review and update the FAQ as new information is available.  

ReadSpeaker is available on the ASCIA COVID-19 vaccination FAQ webpage, to improve access for people with:

  • Vision impairment, limited reading ability or learning disabilities, by allowing text to speech (TTS).
  • Non-English speaking backgrounds - information can be translated into 20 different languages by highlighting the text and selecting 'translate’.

ASCIA COVID-19 vaccination information for health professionals has also been updated and is available on the ASCIA website www.allergy.org.au/members/covid-19#cd1

The specific weblinks are as follows:

ASCIA does not receive commercial or government funding for developing or updating these resources.

ASCIA 2021 Virtual Conference Update

Welcome to the ASCIA 2021 Virtual Conference which runs from Wednesday 1st to Friday 3rd September. We now have over 600 registered delegates, making this the largest ever ASCIA Conference and the major educational event for ASCIA members in 2021. 

To view the Program Book go to https://ascia2021.com/program.php 

If you have not yet registered go to https://ascia2021.com/registration.php

The ASCIA 2021 Conference provides registered delegates with access to:

  • An international standard of continuing professional development and medical education (CPD/CME) in our own time zones.
  • Presentations by 58 speakers in the main program (including 12 international experts - see PROGRAM UPDATES below), 31 presenters in 17 sponsored sessions, 19 Clinical Grand Round (CGR) case presenters, 71 poster presenters, 11 AIFA research grant recipients and 9 CFAR food allergy research ‘hot publication’ authors.
  • Concurrent programs for Nurses, Dietitians and Associate Medical Days on Friday.
  • An interactive program that allows delegates to submit questions online during live Q&A sessions.
  • Video recordings of all sessions on the ASCIA 2021 Conference platform, available until 3rd December 2021.
  • The 3D exhibition hall, to request updates about products, other information and samples from exhibitors.

The reasonably priced registration fees provide delegates with exceptional value, which is possible due to the support from ASCIA 2021 Conference Sponsors and Exhibitors.

PROGRAM UPDATES:

  • Prof Tari Haahtela (Finland) will now be presenting on Biodiversity Exposure and Allergy Prevention as a keynote speaker in the CFAR Symposium, in place of Prof Antonella Muraro (Italy), who was unfortunately unable to present. Prof Haahtela’s presentation on this topic was a highlight of the recent EAACI 2021 Hybrid Congress program.
  • The COVID-19 Pandemic - Where have we come from, where are we going and what have we learnt? dinner meeting presentation by Dr Norman Swan on the evening of Thursday 2nd September will now include live online Q&A, to reflect the rapidly changing situation with the pandemic.
  • Sponsored Session presenters and chairs are now included on pages 10-11 in the Program Book.
  • Dinner Meetings planned for Auckland, Melbourne and Sydney have been postponed due to lockdowns in these cities. Future dates will be advised once restrictions are lifted.

We take this opportunity to acknowledge the very challenging situation for everyone affected by current COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns in Australia and New Zealand. This includes:

  • More than two thirds of ASCIA 2021 Conference speakers, chairs, delegates, sponsors and exhibitors who are located in Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland.
  • ASCIA and ICMSA staff who have organised the Conference, and are based in Sydney and Melbourne.

Lockdown fatigue is an ongoing issue and we hope that the ASCIA 2021 Conference helps to provide you with a welcome change in routine, as well as an outstanding program.

Please refer to the Program Book https://ascia2021.com/program.php for more details about presentations by:

  • 58 speakers in the main program, including 12 international experts (pages 4-8)
  • 11 AIFA research grant recipients (page 9)
  • 31 presenters in 17 sponsored sessions (pages 10-11)
  • 19 Clinical Grand Round (CGR) case presenters (pages 12-13)
  • 71 poster presenters (pages 14-20)
  • 9 CFAR hot publication (food allergy research) authors (pages 21-22)

We look forward to your participation in the ASCIA 2021 Virtual Conference.

RACP Awards and Medals

The annual awards for outstanding contributions made by members of the Royal Australasian College of Physicians are of special importance. They are highly valued for their prestige and are an acknowledgment from peers and colleagues of achievements which might not otherwise be publicly recognised. Nominations for the following prestigious Awards close on Tuesday, 14 September 2021.

  • John Sands Medal for significant contribution to the welfare of the College
  • College Medal -“hominum servire saluti” for significant contribution to medical practice, healthcare and health of the people/community
  • RACP International Medal
  • RACP Medal for Clinical Services in Rural and Remote Areas
  • Mentor of the Year Award
  • Trainee of the Year Award

The presentations of these awards are made at the RACP Convocation Ceremony or RACP Congress 2022.

Full details are available on the RACP Foundation website or email the This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
with enquiries.

Neil Hamilton Fairley Medal 

The Neil Hamilton Fairley Medal is only awarded by the RACP every five years in recognition of an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the field of medicine. The award is open to both RACP Fellows as well as non-members of the College. However, the nominee must be nominated by a Fellow of the RACP to be considered.

Details regarding the application process and selection criteria are available on the website. Nominations close on Tuesday, 31 August 2021.

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