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Aboriginal people are a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination

All Aboriginal people aged 12+ years are eligible and a priority group for COVID-19 vaccination in NSW.

Priority vaccination is important to ensure Aboriginal people have adequate vaccination protection as restrictions are eased.

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

  • Aboriginal people may be at greater risk of severe 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.

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 offer to book their COVID-19 vaccination appointments. Use a culturally appropriate SMS script for some, a phone call for others.

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

    Encourage Aboriginal patients to get all eligible family/household members (aged 12+ years) booked in for vaccination and remind them it's also the best way to protect younger children (aged under 12 years, who are not currently eligible for COVID-19 vaccination).

    ​Consider including web links to patient COVID-19 vaccine information in your SMS message, such as these Q&As and information flyers.

  • Use your practice software prompts and action lists to identify Aboriginal patients during consultations and ask whether they have been vaccinated for COVID-19.

    Access information to help you discuss COVID-19 vaccination with Aboriginal people. Aboriginal Health Workers in local Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services can also support conversations about COVID-19 vaccination.

  • 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)

  • 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 and Episode 3 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 – see further information below.

  • The new 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, including tips for managing stress and a video about connection to culture for wellbeing.

    For 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 Bluewebsite.

  • 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.

  • Aboriginal cultural safety and awareness online training is available as outlined below:

     

    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:

Support

If you or any of your patients are experiencing stress due to COVID-19, help is available. Call the Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support line on 1800 512 348 or visit the Coronavirus BeyondBlue website

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: Tuesday 7 December 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW