OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19
How we're keeping you safe.
Updated April 26, 2021.
Prahran East Medical Centre will continue to provide the highest standard of care for our local community throughout the duration of the pandemic. We have instituted a number of measures to optimise the safety of patients and staff alike. These measures are designed to reduce the foot traffic through our clinic and keep those inside as safe from infection as possible.
The vaccine is here!
We have been approved as an early access vaccination centre and we began vaccinating high risk groups (Phase 1b) on April 12. We have been allocated the Oxford/AstraZeneca, 2 dose vaccine. Initially supply will be very limited, while we wait for domestic production to ramp up. It is virtually 100% effective at protecting against hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 disease. Minor infections are still possible, so even after you're immunised, Covid-safe precautions should still be taken, to prevent infecting others. The vaccine is completely free of charge.
Am I eligible?
The vaccine will be rolled out gradually to various community groups, based on risk of exposure and risk of complications to the virus. Everyone over 70 is now eligible, as well as people under 70 with certain risk factors - this is Phase 1b. Assess your eligibility (from a choice of languages) here. All other people aged 50-69 will be eligible from May 17.
All Covid vaccines are meant to be given with at a least two week gap from other vaccines, for monitoring reasons, so if you have had a flu shot recently, wait two weeks to book your Covid shot.
Is it safe?
Yes, although for people under 50, the Pfizer vaccine is now considered to be slightly safer and is therefore recommended in most cases.
For background, the Oxford/AstraZeneca (OAZ) vaccine is among the most extensively researched vaccines ever to be released in Australia, with tens of millions of doses given overseas already. 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. It is more common in younger people but the overall risk is similar to anaphylaxis, at around 4 per million doses given - an exceedingly low risk. Put into context, this makes it at least 10 times safer than the combined oral contraceptive pill, if taken for a year. However, given the very low risk of both infection (currently) and Covid-related death in younger people, the decision has been made by authorities to recommend that people under 50 years wait for the Pfizer vaccine, where it is safe to do so. We are yet to be advised on exactly when the Pfizer vaccine will become available for under 50-year-olds in the general public. People under 50 who wish to get the OAZ vaccine sooner, despite the slight risk, may still choose to have it as soon as they are eligible.
The most common side effects from the OAZ vaccine 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.
Frequently asked questions on vaccine safety are answered by the Department of Health here.
How do I book?
We are now inviting people in Phase 1b (see above) to book their vaccine appointment, preferably via our website here, or by phoning 9510-8888.
What if I'm eligible but not sure whether to have it?
Consider this: 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 almost three million people, devastated economies around the world and isolated people everywhere. No one has been untouched by this virus. What's more, 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 OAZ vaccine is close to 100% protective against both hospitalisation and death. The risk of serious side-effects is less than one in 100,000.
Comparing the risk of the vaccine to the risk of the disease itself is like comparing the risk of dying from playing golf
to base jumping, except that COVID-19 is 50 times more dangerous than base jumping! If there was a sport as dangerous as COVID-19 it would be banned immediately. 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 our 'welcome' stand.
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 and bring forward the easing of restrictions.
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.