OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19
How we're keeping you safe.
Updated June 18, 2021.
Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty Vaccine Coming Soon!
We have been granted early access to the GP program for the Pfizer vaccine rollout for eligible people under the age of 60 - recently increased from 50. This will begin on around July 5. Bookings available shortly.
Oxford/AstraZeneca (Astra) Vaccine Available Now
For Australians over the age of 60, the Astra vaccine has proven safe and effective. We have plenty of supply, so now is the time to book! (click here) Although minor infections after vaccination are still possible, the vaccine is virtually 100% effective at protecting against hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 disease, including variants. What's more, once you are vaccinated, transmission to others becomes extremely unlikely, which is why the CDC has recently advised it is safe to go mask-free even indoors throughout the USA once vaccinated. We anticipate similar advice here soon, as well as more freedom to travel, including overseas. The vaccine is completely free of charge.
Am I eligible to be vaccinated? Which Vaccine?
Everyone over 60 is eligible for the Astra vaccine.
People aged 40-59 and those aged 16-39 with increased risk of exposure, complications, or transmission to vulnerable people are eligible for the Pfizer vaccine. This includes women who are either planning a pregnancy, pregnant or breastfeeding. Prior to July 5, this is only available at state run centres. Assess your eligibility here. This link can be used to book your shot, or book it with us from July 5.
Those who are not yet eligible will be offered the vaccine later in the year - we are waiting on further advice about exactly when.
All Covid vaccines are meant to ideally be given with at a least a one week gap from other vaccines, for monitoring reasons, so if you have had a flu shot recently, wait seven days to book your Covid shot.
Note that if you are aged 50-59 and have received a first dose of the Astra vaccine without serious adverse effects, your second dose must also be the Astra vaccine. This is government policy, in line with advice from the UK that 2nd dose Astra has very low rates of TTS (see below) and limited data about brand switching.
Are these new vaccines safe?
Both of these two-dose vaccines are among the most extensively researched vaccines ever to be released in Australia, with many tens of millions of doses given overseas already.
The most common side effects from both of the vaccines are injection site pain or swelling, headache, aches and pains, chills and fever, usually lasting less than a day or two. Ongoing monitoring world-wide expands our knowledge further, every day. For the Australian experience so far, see here.
This vaccine is being manufactured here in Melbourne. Over five million Australians have now received the Astra vaccine, including well over a thousand from our clinic. The most serious risks identified are anaphylaxis and a rare blood clotting disorder. The anaphylaxis risk is similar to most other vaccines, at about 1-5 per one million doses. We are set up to manage anaphylaxis on site. The clotting issue is a condition called Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome (TTS). It is more common in younger people, but in people over 60, the risk is around 1 per 70,000 doses given. Treatment of this condition has become very effective as doctors have shared information gathered over time. More here.
This vaccine has been given to over 150 million people worldwide already. It has proven to be extremely safe and effective. Like all vaccines, there is a tiny risk of severe allergic reaction (anaphylaxis), similar to the Astra vaccine. More information here.
Frequently asked questions on vaccine safety are answered by the Department of Health here.
How do I book?
Anyone aged 60 or over can book their vaccine appointment with us right now, preferably via our website here, or by phoning 9510-8888. Pfizer vaccine appointments will open up at the end of June.
What if I'm eligible but not sure whether to have it?
Consider this: life is full of choices around risk. There is a tiny risk with being vaccinated, but there's a MUCH greater risk with delaying vaccination. A risk we have all lived with for a year and a half, and it ends when you get vaccinated. We are talking about the most dangerous virus to come to Australia in over 100 years. Of the people infected, around 1-2% die, 20% are hospitalised and 30% are unwell for months. It has killed over three million people, devastated economies around the world and isolated people everywhere. No one has been untouched by this virus. And until a good majority of us have been vaccinated, we will be at constant risk of another lockdown. Further, the longer it takes us to contain COVID-19 around the world, the more chance it will mutate to be resistant to the vaccines we now have. The vaccine is close to 100% protective against both hospitalisation and death, and it's effective at preventing transmission. It's our ticket back to normality. Contrast all that to the risk of serious side-effects - less than one in 70,000 for people over 60. Why take the risk of not being vaccinated?
Choose telephone or in-person consultations
As long as you have no symptoms of COVID-19, you may book either a face-to-face or a telephone consultation, depending on what you feel would work best. Following a telephone consultation, the doctor may still need to ask you to come in for an examination or procedure.
Patients to be seen are asked to wait in their car or on our front porch until called by the doctor. If you are walking to the clinic and the weather is unpleasant, or the porch seats are taken, there is limited seating available in our waiting room. Anyone in the waiting room must be free of symptoms of the coronavirus. They will be kept a safe distance apart.
Any person entering the building is asked to wear a mask and use the hand sanitiser at the front door.
Please DO NOT enter the building if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 (loss of sense of smell or taste, cough, sore throat, runny nose, shortness of breath or fever) or you are in mandatory self-isolation or quarantine. Call us or book a phone appointment.
The staff at Prahran East Medical Centre thank you very much for your kind cooperation and understanding.
Free testing available
Bulk-billed testing via nose and throat swab is booked by calling reception. Our nurse will meet you at the rear of the building and either perform the test or instruct on self-testing. Alternatively, if you feel you may require examination by a doctor, you can be assessed and tested by a doctor onsite. First a doctor will call you to confirm your eligibility and book your swab test. Book the phone consultation via the button at the top of this page.
Symptoms that warrant testing are a new onset of cough, sore throat, runny nose, loss of sense of smell or taste, shortness of breath, or fever (or symptoms of fever, like chills or sweats), where another cause for the fever is not obvious. For health and aged care workers and those with close contact with an affected case, testing is also performed for less specific symptoms, like headache, muscle pains, blocked nose, nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea.
Cost of phone consultations
The fees for phone consultations are the same as face-to-face visits and are time-based. See our Fees page.
Fees will be charged after consultations automatically, with Medicare rebates going into your bank account, arranged by us. We will call you for a credit card number prior to your consultation.
Consultations that involve phone and in-person components with the same doctor, on the same day, for the same problem are charged as a single consultation, for the total time taken.
We encourage everyone to download the COVIDSafe App to enhance contact tracing, which we hope will help to further limit the spread of the virus.
See here for daily updates on COVID-19 from the Victorian Health Department.
An excellent video explaining COVID-19 in detail, from the Head of Infectious Diseases at Heidelberg's Austin Hospital and friend of PEMC, A/Prof Patrick Charles, is here, with updates here: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7, #8, #9.
Excellence. Empathy.. Every Encounter.