All Aboriginal people 5 years+ are a priority for COVID-19 vaccination

"I got vaccinated to help protect my family, my friends and my community."

Barbie Fusitu'a Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District, Aboriginal Health Unit

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Aboriginal people are a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination

All Aboriginal people aged 5+ years are eligible and a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination in NSW.

Priority vaccination is important to ensure Aboriginal people have strong vaccination protection as NSW transitions to 'living with Covid'.

Why it's important to prioritise COVID-19 vaccination for Aboriginal people

  • Aboriginal people have a greater risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19. This may be due to higher rates of chronic health conditions, and social determinants which amplify the risk of disease.
  • The same social determinants of health affecting Aboriginal peoples' access to general healthcare are also likely to affect access to COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Priority vaccination for Aboriginal people is important to ensure equitable vaccination coverage and keep the whole NSW population safe.

Booster vaccination

Booster doses are important to strengthen protection against serious illness from COVID-19. Aboriginal people are a priority group for a COVID-19 booster vaccination due to increased risk from the virus.

Boosters can strengthen protection against the Omicron variant up to 86% against infection and 98% against serious illness.

A single COVID-19 vaccine booster dose is recommended for people aged 16 years and older who completed their primary course 3 or more months ago.

The Pfizer and Moderna mRNA vaccines are recommended as boosters in Australia. Although not preferred, the AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines can be given as a booster when an mRNA vaccine is unsuitable for a person.

A booster dose does not need to be delayed following COVID-19 infection. It can be given once the person has fully recovered from the virus. For most people this is about 4 – 6 weeks after infection.

More information on booster vaccinations.

COVID-19 vaccination for children aged 5 - 11 years old

Vaccination against COVID-19 is recommended for all children aged 5 – 11 years.

The paediatric formulation of the Pfizer (Comirnaty) vaccine is registered for use in children aged 5 to 11 years. The Moderna (Spikevax) Vaccine is registered for use in children aged 6 to 11 years. The paediatric formulations for both vaccines differ from the adolescent/adult formulations in concentration and recommended dosing (see Vaccines, dosage and administration – clinical guidance).

Children aged 5 to 11 years should not receive the adolescent/adult formulation of any vaccines.

AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines are not registered for use in children aged 5 to 11 years.

Checklist for COVID-19 vaccination for Aboriginal patients

We've developed a useful checklist to help you promote vaccination to Aboriginal patients:

  • Reach out to your Aboriginal patients, and their parents/carers, and offer to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments for all eligible family/household members (aged 5+ years), including booster vaccinations where relevant.

    Use a culturally appropriate script for some, a phone call for others.

    It is helpful to contact your Aboriginal patients again, even if you have previously contacted them.

    Consider including web links to patient COVID-19 vaccine information in your SMS messages, such as these information flyers and websites.

  • Use your practice software prompts and action lists to identify Aboriginal patients during consultations and ask if they have any questions about COVID-19 vaccination.

    Access information to help you discuss COVID-19 vaccination with Aboriginal people, and consider using the decision-making tool during consultations with Aboriginal patients.

    Aboriginal Health Workers in local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services can also support conversations about COVID-19 vaccination.

  • Display COVID-19 vaccination resources and videos featuring Aboriginal people in your waiting room to capture their attention.

    The NSW Health "Yarn-Up" video series is popular – you can rotate Episode 1, Episode 2, Episode 3 and Episode 4 on your TV screens.

    Posters and brochures designed for Aboriginal people help, as does posting about vaccination on your website and social media. You can share posts from the NSW Health pages (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok) or create your own using our social tiles and videos.

  • Making your practice inclusive and welcoming for Aboriginal people encourages self-identification (for COVID-19 vaccination and other visits). These practical steps will help you provide culturally safe healthcare and this printable reminder will keep identification of Aboriginal people front of mind.

    You can also undertake Aboriginal cultural safety and awareness training.

  • The MBS item number (90005), combined with an assessment to determine a patient's suitability and administering the COVID-19 vaccine, makes a home-visit delivery model more feasible to reach your patients who have ​carer responsibilities, transportation or mobility issues.

  • COVID-19 information for Aboriginal people in NSW is available on the NSW Government website.

    The NSW Health website has tips for managing stress and a video about connection to culture for wellbeing

    For more wellbeing resources for Aboriginal people visit WellMob.

    If your patients are experiencing stress or need support due to COVID-19, help is available by calling the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support line on 1800 512 348 or visiting The Coronavirus Beyond Blue website.

  • If you're not providing COVID-19 vaccination, or don't have the patient's preferred vaccine available, refer your Aboriginal patient to a local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service, an Aboriginal-specific Local Health District service or a local pharmacy vaccine provider. This may involve helping your patient make an appointment.

    It is important to support Aboriginal patients with a referral so the opportunity for them to get vaccinated for COVID-19 is not missed.

  • Identifying Aboriginal patients and recording Aboriginal status is important to ensure a complete patient record and will help Aboriginal people to access COVID-19 vaccination.

    To identify Aboriginal patients ask all patients the standard identification question:
    "Are you of Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander origin"

    If required, the RACGP suggest using the following statement to preface the question:
    "The following information will assist in the planning and provision of appropriate and improved healthcare and services so that we can provide the best care possible."

    The identification question should be asked irrespective of appearance, country of birth and whether the patient or their family are known to staff. All patients have a right to freely respond to the question and are not required to answer.

    Further information is available in the video Identifying Aboriginal patients in your general practice.

    For practical examples on asking the question, watch the Murrumbidgee Primary Health Network video.

    Identifying Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander patients benefits both your patients and your practice:

    You can also undertake cultural safety and awareness training (free to access) that includes information on how to ask the Aboriginal patient identification question.

    For more information see RACGP recommendations and Standards for General Practice – 5th Edition (C7.1E)

  • Aboriginal cultural safety and awareness online training is available:

    All staff working in general practice can benefit from Aboriginal cultural safety and awareness training, including practice nurses, practice managers and receptionists.

    The training helps you develop an understanding of Aboriginal culture, history and their relationship to health to further improve the health outcomes of Aboriginal people, and how to incorporate what you have gained into your own professional practice. You will learn about why it is important to ask the standard Aboriginal identification question and how to make your practice more welcoming and inclusive for Aboriginal people.

Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services

An Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service near you is likely to be providing COVID-19 vaccination and have Aboriginal Health Workers who can support you and your Aboriginal patients.

Other information and resources

For more COVID-19 information, updates and patient resources for Aboriginal people and communities visit:

The links on this page are provided as a convenience and for informational purposes only; they do not constitute an endorsement or an approval by NSW Health of any of the products, services or opinions of the organisations linked to. NSW Health bears no responsibility for the accuracy, currency or legality of content on any external sites, or for that of subsequent links.

NSW Health does not guarantee, and accepts no legal liability whatsoever arising from, or connected to, the use of any material contained on any linked site. NSW Health recommends users exercise their own skill and care with respect to their use of linked websites and that users carefully evaluate the accuracy, currency, completeness and relevance of the material on linked websites for their purposes. Contact the external site owner for answers to questions regarding its content.

If you have any questions or would like more resources to support Aboriginal people around COVID-19 vaccination, please contact the Centre for Aboriginal Health - NSW Health.

Current as at: Friday 18 March 2022
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW