OUR RESPONSE TO COVID-19
How we're keeping you safe.
Updated April 20, 2022.
Winter Booster and Flu Shots
A second 'winter' Covid booster, given four months after the initial booster, is now recommended for the following groups:
All adults aged 65 years and older
Residents of aged care or disability care facilities
People aged 16 years and older with severe immunocompromise (as defined in the purple box on page 3 of this ATAGI statement)
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older.
As these people are also advised to get a flu shot around this time, we recommend having both vaccines together, as this combination has now been approved. Just book a Covid vaccine via the red button above, and we will offer you the flu shot on the same visit, subject to availability. Other people wishing to get a flu shot, (free of charge for those with particular health issues, see here) are also invited to book this vaccine on its own.
Initial Booster Shots
Booster doses are recommended for everyone over the age of 16 years who has had two Covid vaccines (of any brand), with the second dose being at least three months ago. Immunocompromised people who had three primary doses (see below) can also have a booster after a three month gap. This is our best protection against the new Omicron variant, as well as Delta. We use the Pfizer vaccine for boosters. Hit the red button above and select "Covid-19 vaccine Dose 3".
Vaccinations for 5-11 Year-olds
Bookings are available now - hit the red button above and select Covid-19 vaccine Dose 1 - Pfizer (5-11 years). To date, we have only been offered limited quantities.
Free testing available by appointment
There are two types of test:
1. PCR testing - the default test we perform on site; free (bulk-billed), results take 1-4 days depending on demand, highly accurate.
2. Rapid Antigen Testing (RAT), cost is $25 out-of-pocket, results available within 15 minutes, less accurate. These are available upon request at the time of your appointment, subject to availability.
Anyone with symptoms should get tested. 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.
PLEASE NOTE: Home-based Rapid Antigen Tests are currently recommended in the first instance for most people, when available. See this link to the Victorian Government website for more info on this.
Care for Positive Cases
We offer care for mild to moderate Covid-19 disease at home via Telehealth, partnering with Alfred Health. Book an appointment using the red button above, or call reception. Detailed advice on managing Covid at home is available here.
Video or phone consultations are preferred where practical
During the current outbreak, telehealth consultations are recommended, unless there is a clear need to attend in person. Following a telehealth consultation, the doctor may ask you to come in for an examination or procedure.
After booking a telehealth consultation, you will receive a link that will connect you to your doctor's screen when the consultation commences. Note that just like in-person consultations, at times the doctor may be running a little late for your appointment, due to unforeseen issues.
For those unable to use video conferencing, telephone consultations are still available.
Patients to be seen are asked to wait in their car (especially in unpleasant weather), or on our front porch, until called by the doctor. If you are walking to the clinic and prefer to wait indoors, 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 must 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.
The staff at Prahran East Medical Centre thank you very much for your kind cooperation and understanding.
Cost of telehealth and phone consultations
The fees for telehealth and 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.
More on Vaccinations
See above regarding boosters. Initial vaccination is still available. We supply the Pfizer vaccine. Although minor infections after vaccination are still possible, these vaccines are highly effective at protecting against hospitalisation and death from COVID-19 disease, including the Delta and Omicron variants. The vaccines are completely free of charge, if you have Medicare. If you do not have Medicare, we do not have the capacity to give you the vaccine. Please book at a state run vaccination hub.
Still waiting for your Digital Certificate?
Unfortunately, the Australian Government is still using a manual system to register your immunisation data. With the current rush on vaccinations, this means that it may take up to four weeks after your second shot for your digital certificate to become available. There is nothing we can do from our end to speed up the process, but if your situation is urgent, we suggest you call the Australian Immunisation Register on 1800 653 809 and ask them to upload your vaccinations for you directly.
Third doses for the Immunocompromised
Third doses (prior to the booster) are recommended for people who are classed as "severely immunocompromised." These people require three doses for a primary course to get good protection from COVID-19 disease, including children from age 5. See the statement from ATAGI for details. Pfizer is the recommended choice for most people, at least four weeks after the second dose. To book your third dose via our website, choose "Covid-19 vaccine Dose 3". See top of this page regarding booster doses following the primary course.
Entry to the clinic only for the fully vaccinated
With Victoria reaching Phase C of reopening at 80% double dose, only people who have received two doses of a Covid vaccine will now be permitted to enter our clinic, unless they have a valid exemption letter or are attending for vaccination. This difficult decision has been made to protect the safety of our vulnerable patients, as well as our staff, by minimising the risk of the virus entering our building. Some people have health issues that limit the protection that the rest of us receive from vaccination. The policy aligns with similar restrictions in public venues across the state and country. If done elsewhere, proof of vaccination will be required for entry. Video and phone consultations will continue to be available to everyone.
Pfizer/BioNTech Comirnaty Vaccine
This mRNA vaccine is the preferred vaccine for those under 60, due to its very slightly favourable safety profile and effectiveness. It's now available to everyone from age 5 and up. The recommended gap between the two doses is currently three weeks for everybody, including 5-11 year olds, due to the ongoing outbreak in Melbourne.
Oxford/AstraZeneca Vaxzevria Vaccine - no longer supplied at PEMC
This vaccine is available to all Australians over the age of 18. Its main use now is for people who cannot take the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines due to previous side effects, or risk factors for side effects. The gap between doses that is recommended during Victoria's outbreak is 4-6 weeks.
Moderna Vaccine - similar to Pfizer, not supplied at PEMC
Novavax Vaccine - older technology, not supplied at PEMC
Are these vaccines safe?
Yes - these vaccines are now among the most extensively researched vaccines ever to be used in Australia, with literally billions of carefully monitored doses having been given worldwide.
The most common side effects from all the vaccines are injection site discomfort or swelling, headache, aches and pains, chills and fever, but these symptoms are generally mild and last less than a day or two. Ongoing monitoring expands our knowledge further, every day. For the Australian experience so far, see here.
This vaccine 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. Very rare cases of inflammation of the heart (myocarditis and pericarditis) occur in around 1 in 50,000 people. This is generally self-limiting and not serious. People with heart conditions are not at increased risk of this issue occuring, and have even more reason to have the vaccine, since Covid-19 infection is more dangerous for these patients. Heart inflammation occurs much more often during COVID-19 infection than after vaccination. More information here.
AstraZeneca Vaccine (available at state vaccination hubs)
This vaccine is being manufactured here in Melbourne. Millions of Australians have now received the Astra vaccine, including several 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 has been seen in around one person per 70,000 doses given, in people over 60 years. It starts 4-40 days after (mainly the first) vaccination and the usual symptoms are persistent severe headache or abdominal pain. Treatment of this condition is now very effective as doctors have shared information gathered over time. More here.
Frequently asked questions on vaccine safety and misinformation are answered by the Department of Health here.
How do I book?
Book using our HotDoc App or via our website here.
There are three steps at our entrance, so please call reception if you have mobility issues.
What if I'm still not sure whether to have it?
Consider this: life is full of choices around risk. There is an extremely tiny risk of serious side effects with being vaccinated, but there's a VASTLY greater risk with delaying vaccination. A risk we have all lived with for over two years, and it ends when you get immunised. This virus is not going away, and sooner or later we will all be exposed to it. If you survive it, someone you pass it onto may not.
This is the most dangerous new virus to come to Australia in over 100 years. Of the people infected, around 1-2% die, 10% are hospitalised and 20% are unwell for months. It has killed around five million people, devastated economies around the world and isolated people everywhere. No one has been untouched by this virus.
Most Australians are now fully vaccinated, including all our staff and their families, and we're all fine! The vaccine is highly protective against both hospitalisation and death, and it's also effective at reducing transmission. It's our ticket back to normality. Contrast all that to the risk of serious side-effects - less than one in 50,000. Why take the risk of NOT being vaccinated?
These vaccines are new - what about long term side effects?
Tens of thousands of people had the vaccines in trials during the first half of 2020 and have been followed closely since then, without any concerns appearing. And since no vaccine has ever caused long term problems, nor should they - they're broken down by the body within weeks - there is no reason to think this will be an issue.
I trust my immune system
That's fair enough - it's got you this far. But unless you have never had a vaccine, your immune system is educated. Vaccination is like sending your immune system to school, and all those childhood vaccines have prevented us from getting all sorts of dangerous diseases, like diphtheria, polio and tetanus - even when we've travelled. Now, to keep you safe once more, your immune system needs a diploma in defending you from Covid-19. There are dozens of people on ventilators in Melbourne today - including healthy young people and people who have been in ICU for months - who wish they'd gone and done that already.
Everyone's situation is different, and some people still have doubts despite all this information - and that's perfectly ok. Please book an appointment to discuss your vaccination concerns with your doctor.
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.