COVID-19 Vaccination Update

We have yet to receive specific information from the Commonwealth Department of Health (DoH) or the Victorian Department of Health (DH) regarding the community rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Australia’s COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of the brand offered to you, are:

  • safe and effective
  • free for everyone living in Australia
  • will help protect you and the community from COVID-19

The COVID-19 vaccine will become available in phases.  These phases have been identified using public health, medical and epidemiological evidence. This mean different groups of people will get the COVID-19 vaccine at different times.  The groups are Phase 1a, Phase 1b, Phase 2a, Phase 2b and Phase 3.  You may need to provide evidence of eligibility to your vaccination provider before you can receive a COVID-19 vaccine.

Click here to find out your group and when you are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine. 

In Victoria, Phase 1a commenced on the 22/02/2021 to high risk frontline workers and aged/disability care staff and residents.

The COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the general community is expected to reach Phase 1b around the middle of March 2021, however the date of Phase 1b may change. This will occur in medical centres and other community locations.

Phase 1b group will include:

  • Elderly adults aged > 70 years old.
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people > 55 years old.
  • Adults > 18 years old with an underlying medical condition*, including those with a disability.
  • Critical and high risk workers (eg: medical, defence, emergency services and meat processing).

(*heart disease, respiratory conditions, diabetes, neurological conditions, immunocompromising conditions, renal disease or haematological disorders)

Click here if you fall into Phase 1b and would like to complete a COVID-19 vaccine preparedness survey.

There is currently no need to register to be vaccinated.  You may be able to book online through a centralised booking service as the rollout progresses but unfortunately this has yet to be finalised or announced by the DoH or DH.

Victoria Harbour Medical Centre understands that this may be a confusing and anxious time for many of our patients.  We will try to provide updates regarding the rollout of Phase 1b via our clinic website when more information if made available to us.

While you wait to be vaccinated for COVID-19, there are some things you can do to get ready.:

  • Click here to find out what you should do before you get vaccinated for COVID-19.
  • Click here to download a fact sheet about preparing for the COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Click here to subscribe for email updates about to the COVID-19 vaccination.
  • Book a Telehealth consultation with one of our GPs to discuss your concerns.
  • Call 24/7 the COVID-19 vaccine hotline on 1800 020 080

Click here for information about side effects and after care following your COVID-19 vaccine.

Click here for further digital information about the COVID-19 vaccine.

Click here for information about the COVID-19 vaccine for people with disabilities including Auslan video resources. 

Information about the COVID-19 vaccine has been translated into multiple languages. Click here to find information in your language.

COVID-19 Update

Click here for the latest clinic news about COVID-19 on our website.

COVID-19 Vaccines:

Click here for information about the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine to Australian communities in 2021.

Outbreak Alerts:

If YOU or a CLOSE CONTACT have been in, visited or travelled through a current outbreak, hot-spot or public exposure site you are NOT PERMITTED ENTRY into our medical centre.  FIRST call reception on tel (03) 9629 1414 to organise a Telehealth consultation with one of our GPs.  

Click here for current Victorian COVID-19 public exposure site and outbreak information.

Click here to view an interactive map with current national venue exposure sites.

Click here to find out about the Victorian Travel Permit System.

Testing:

Click here for a list of COVID-19 assessment and testing centres in Victoria.

Click here to find out more about The Call-to-Test service for vulnerable Victorians.  This service will enable some of our most vulnerable to get tested for COVID-19 at home with a qualified health clinician. The service will provide access for people who cannot leave home due to injury, mobility or other eligible reasons.

Clink here for information about the Coronavirus worker support payment to assist Victorian workers to get tested and stay home.

Face Masks:

Click here for information about face masks.

Victoria’s Restriction Levels:

Click here for information about current restricted activity directions issued by the Victorian Department of Health.

What to do if you think you have COVID-19:

If you think you have COVID-19 or you have had close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 first make a Telehealth appointment with one of our GPs to find out how to get tested.

COVID-19 testing is now recommended if you feel unwell with the following symptoms:

  • fever / chills / sweats

OR

  • new onset respiratory symptoms (cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, runny nose, loss of smell or loss of taste)

If you have any of the symptoms, however mild, STAY HOME and seek advice from your GP by a Telehealth phone consultation first to find out how to get tested

If you need a COVID-19 test, you must GO HOME immediately after the test and remain in self-isolation until you receive your test result.

What if I am a patient at Victoria Harbour Medical Centre?:

Victoria Harbour Medical Centre is committed to ensuring the health and safety of all patients and staff.  We are here to help and have temporarily changed our service model to better manage your healthcare needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.  Whether you are worried about symptoms of COVID-19 or any other type of health problem, our GPs are still on hand to help.  We encourage you to continue consulting your regular GP for any health matter.

Safe in-person face-to-face consultations or Telehealth appointments are available.  You can make an appointment with us online or by calling the medical centre on (03) 9629 1414.  Screening questions will be asked when you book or attend an appointment.  You will always be informed of your options when you make an appointment.

We remain open for your health needs but as conditions of entry, all patients and visitors must:

  • wear a face mask
  • scan our location specific QR code to assist with contact tracing if required

If you need urgent medical care always call emergency 000 (triple zero).

If you are seeking information on COVID-19 call the Coronavirus Hotline:

Both hotlines operate 24/7 and will connect you to a registered nurse if needed.

For digital resources and daily health alerts about COVID-19 refer to:

Click here for RACGP guidelines, actions plans and a symptom diary for how to manage mild COVID-19 infection at home with the assistance from your GP.

Click here for the DHHS COVID-19 Home Safety Plan – this guide will help keep you, your family and friends safe and well.

For translating or interpreting call 131 450 first and tell them your language.  Click here for translated resources.  SBS Radio is also broadcasting COVID-19 news and information in your language.

PRODUCT RECALL ALERT: Mylan PrEP

Alphapharm Pty Ltd has advised that its Mylan PrEP formulation has now been fixed to address a previous tablet splitting issue and is now available. 

In December 2020 a product recall of all batches of Mylan PrEP (Tenofovir disoproxil maleate / Emtricitabine 300mg / 200mg tablets) was being undertaken due to the potential for broken / split tablets. 

For more information about that recall, click here.

You can also call Alphapharm customer support on 1800 274 276.

Face Masks Update

You are required to wear a face mask when attending the medical centre

Click here for updated Department of Health information about wearing face masks in Victoria.

From 11:59pm on Friday 26th February 2021 new statewide restrictions are in effect.

For all adults and children aged 12 years or older in Victoria face masks now must be worn in the following settings:

  • on public transport
  • when riding in a taxi or ride share or tour vehicle
  • at shopping centre and in retail facilities with >2,000sqm of indoor space
  • indoors at markets and market stalls
  • by visitors to a hospital
  • by visitors to a care facility
  • on flights to/from Victoria
  • indoors at airports

Remember, you must also wear a face mask in the following situations:

  • while experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19
  • if you are diagnosed with COVID-19, or a close contact of someone diagnosed with COVID-19, at all times while away from your home or accommodation for a permitted reason, such as medical care or to get tested
  • while awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test when leaving your home or accommodation for a permitted reason, such as medical care (except as part of a surveillance or other asymptomatic testing program)

It is strongly recommended you wear a face mask when at a private gathering or when you cannot maintain 1.5 metres distance from other people, including outdoors.

You must carry a face mask with you when you leave home, unless you have a lawful reason not to wear a mask.

There are a number of lawful reasons to not wear a face mask.

A face mask must be a cloth mask or a single-use (surgical) mask.  Face shields, bandanas, scarves or loose snoods, loose buffs or loose gaiters on their own are not considered a sufficient face covering.  A face covering must be a fitted face mask that covers the nose and mouth.

For children under 12 years of age:

  • Children aged 2 years and younger: must never wear a face mask due to choking/suffocation risk
  • Children aged 3 to 11 years: families should make their own decisions about whether their children should wear a face mask in the required settings

If you are feeling unwell or have any symptoms of COVID-19 you should STAY HOME and call your doctor to find out how to get tested.

For digital resources about COVID-19 and the use of face masks refer to:

For 24/7 telephone support about COVID-19 call the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

For translating or interpreting call 131 450 first and tell them your language.  Click here for translated resources.  SBS Radio is also broadcasting COVID-19 news and information in your language.

Click here for the latest clinic news about COVID-19 on our website.

Changes to Telehealth Fees

Telemedicine free icon

This service is not for emergency care.  For urgent medical care call emergency 000 (Triple Zero) or go to an emergency department at a hospital.

Telehealth phone appointments with our GPs are still available.

You can book a Telehealth phone consultation online or by calling our reception team on (03) 9629 1414.

Telehealth was introduced in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.  This service has now been extended to the 31st March 2021.  Telehealth consultations will continue to help regular patients of this medical centre access non-urgent but essential healthcare from their home.  This will support public health policies to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 exposure and spread.

Telehealth at Victoria Harbour Medical Centre:

  • 15-minute phone consultations with your GP by appointment
  • Phone calls from your GP may come from a Private Number (No Caller ID)
  • Your GP will call you as close as possible to your Telehealth appointment time
  • Your consent and identity will be confirmed by your GP before your consultation begins
  • Ensure your phone is charged and that you’re available to take the call in a quiet and private place
  • Your GP will discuss with you the most appropriate course of care and if a clinical in-person face-to-face appointment at the medical centre is needed

Common conditions appropriate for a Telehealth phone consultation include:

  • COVID-19 related health questions
  • Non-life threatening respiratory illness
  • Referral letters
  • Medical certificates
  • Discussing test results
  • Repeat prescription medication*
  • Repeat pathology investigation requests
  • Minor illness which can be managed at home
  • Routine PrEP and asymptomatic STI screening
  • Mental health consultations including mental health care plans and psychology referrals
  • Management of chronic conditions like diabetes, asthma, COPD, blood pressure and heart disease

* This does not include restricted Schedule 4 and Schedule 8 (Controlled Drug) prescription medications and other Drugs of Dependence.  If you are a Medicare card holder Electronic Prescriptions are now available.

Fees:

Our medical centre charges a co-payment (out of pocket) fee for all Telehealth services.  This fee will change from the 17th January 2021.  Refer to our Patient Information section on our website for a list of our Telehealth fee schedule.  Telehealth attracts a Medicare rebate only if you’ve had a face-to-face consultation with any of our GPs at our medical centre within the last 12-months.  If you don’t fit this Medicare criteria, a private non-refundable fee will apply.  This means there is no Medicare rebate.  This Medicare rule does not apply to:

  • Infants < 12 months old
  • People who are homeless
  • People who:
    • live in a COVID-19 impacted area, or
    • currently have COVID-19 or are in quarantine, or
    • are self-isolating as a close contact of someone who may have COVID-19

For more information:

Refer to this Department of Health Telehealth Fact Sheet or the RACGP Fact Sheet about Telehealth.

For 24/7 telephone support about COVID-19 call the Victorian Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 675 398.

For translating or interpreting call 131 450 first and tell them your language.  Click here for translated resources.  SBS Radio is also broadcasting COVID-19 news and information in your language.

Click here for the latest information about COVID-19 on our website.

s100 HIV prescribers now available @ VHMC

GPs Dr Christopher Kearney and Dr Damien Polioudakis are accredited s100 HIV community prescribers.

This means they are able to prescribe highly specialised HIV medication called antiretroviral therapy (ART).

Both have advanced training and experience in providing care to people at risk of HIV or people living with HIV (PLHIV).

HIV is now considered a manageable chronic condition requiring lifelong treatment.  HIV treatments have changed dramatically over the years and can now offer PLHIV a long and healthy life.  s100 GPs play a vital role in primary and preventative health care for PLHIV.

Victoria Harbour Medical Centre is an inclusive health service and our GPs are committed to providing a comprehensive and confidential medical service.

We also provide PrEP and PEP consultations on an appointment system.  PrEP can be prescribed by any GP.  PEP consultations can only be provided by s100 GPs.  Do not book an online appointment for a PEP consultation.  If you think you need PEP please call and let us know you need a PEP appointment and we will always try and prioritise you or recommend referral to another PEP service.

As we a private billing medical centre, standard consultation fees apply for all services.

If you would like to transfer your HIV care to one of our s100 GPs please book a long (30 minute) appointment.

For further information about this service click here.

Electronic Prescriptions

Victoria Harbour Medical Centre is now electronic prescription enabled.

Click here to read the RACGP fact sheet about electronic prescriptions.

An electronic prescription is an alternative to a paper prescription. If you are registered with Medicare or DVA, your GP will now be able to deliver an electronic prescription to your mobile phone via SMS or to your email.  You will receive a unique QR barcode known as a token.  A token is not a legal prescription, but it can be used by an authorised dispensing pharmacy to unlock the legal prescription. All you need to do is show your token to be scanned at your pharmacy. The pharmacy will then access your electronic prescription and dispense your medicine.  Electronic prescriptions are not mandatory.  You still have choice to receive either an electronic or a paper prescription from your GP (but not both).  Electronic prescriptions comply with all relevant Commonwealth and State and Territory privacy, digital security and legislation requirements.

Your GP can send you the electronic prescription token via SMS or email. You can also ask your GP to print out your token for you.  You will receive one token for each medicine you’re prescribed.

Yes. If your GP has prescribed any repeats for your prescription, you’ll receive a new token from the pharmacy when the medicine is dispensed. Use that new token to get your repeat prescription.

Yes. Paper prescriptions will continue to be an option if that’s your preference. However, you can’t have both a paper prescription and an electronic prescription for the same medicine. The prescription will stay in the same form until it expires. Repeats for a paper prescriptions cannot be converted to tokens.

Yes. You will always be able to choose which pharmacy you prefer to fill your prescription. Not all pharmacies accept electronic prescriptions at this time, so make sure you check with your pharmacy if they’re ready to accept electronic prescriptions.

Yes. Just like a paper prescription, you can give your token to a family member or other person to take to the pharmacy and pick up your medicines for you. You’ll need to forward the token to their mobile or email. You can also forward your token direct to your pharmacy, and the pharmacy may be able to home deliver your medicines. Contact your pharmacy to see if they offer this service.

Contact your GP if you lose your token. Your GP will need to issue you a new token.

If you lose your repeat token, contact your pharmacy to have your token reissued.

Looking After Your Mental Health

It’s important to look after your mental health during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

We recognise the feelings of anxiety and concerns many people may be experiencing during this time, especially for those in self-isolation or quarantine.

There are a number of ways to support your mental health during this period:

  • Book a Telehealth phone consultation with your GP for a chat.
  • Seek professional support from a counsellor/psychologist early if you’re having difficulties*.
  • Remind yourself that this is a temporary period of isolation to slow the spread of COVID-19.
  • Remember that your effort is helping others in the community avoid contracting COVID-19.
  • Routines sound dull, but they’re good for our mental health. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time, eat at regular times, shower, and change your clothes. This will help you to manage your days and adjust when life starts to go back to normal.
  • Try to maintain physical activity.
  • Manage your stress levels, and if needed, increase your coping strategies (for example, listening to music, watching your favourite shows, meditation or exercise).
  • Keep taking your medication. Phone your GP or pharmacist to find out how to get any new prescriptions you may need. If you’re staying at home and that’s disrupting your routine, set reminders to take your medicine when you need to.
  • For those already managing mental health issues, continue to take any prescribed medication, continue with your treatment plan and monitor for any new symptoms.

* The Australian Government will now provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions under a GP Mental Health Care Plan for people subjected to further restrictions in areas impacted by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Click here for more information.

There are plenty of ways to support other people, or be supported if you are feeling anxious or uncertain.

Where to go for help:

If you are experiencing an emergency always call 000.

Lifeline Australia 13 11 14

  • 24/7 crisis support service for people who are having difficulty coping or staying safe.

Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467

  • 24/7 mental health support crisis call back service.

Care in Mind 1300 096 269

  • 24/7 free online and phone counselling for people living, working, or studying in Melbourne’s northern, central and western suburbs. This is not a crisis service.

Beyond Blue 1800 512 348

  • Coronavirus mental wellbeing support service. This is not a crisis service.

SANE 1800 18 7263

  • Services to help support those affected by complex mental health issues. This is not a crisis service.

Eheadspace 1800 650 893

  • Online and webchat support and counselling for 12-25 year olds, their family and friends. This is not a crisis service.

Mindspot 1800 61 44 34

  • Free telephone and online service for people with stress, worry, anxiety, low mood or depression. This is not a crisis service.

Brother to Brother 1800 435 799

  • 24/7 new crisis line for Aboriginal men has been set up to provide extra support during the COVID-19 pandemic. The line is staffed by Aboriginal men, including elders, to promote a culturally-safe service.

For youth focused mental health and support services:

Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800

Headspace 1800 650 890

ReachOut

Orygen Digital – Moderated Online Social Therapy (MOST)

For specialist areas:

Safe Steps 1800 015 188

  • 24/7 Victorian family violence support service.

1800Respect 1800 737 732

  • 24/7 confidential counselling, information and support for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse via phone or online chat. 

Directline 1800 888 236

  • 24/7 confidential alcohol and drug counselling and referral service. This is not a crisis service.

Gambler’s Help 1800 858 858

  • 24/7 free confidential online, telephone and face-to-face counselling, advice and information about gambling harm. This is not a crisis service.

MensLine 1300 78 99 78

  • 24/7 professional telephone and online support and information service for men. This is not a crisis service.

Switchboard Victoria 1800 184 527

  • Phone and web counselling, information and referral service for LGBTQI people. Web counselling through QLife Webchat. This is not a crisis service.

Head to Health

  • Digital mental health resource to support you through COVID-19. This is not a crisis service.

THIS WAY UP

  • Free online tools, practical tips and strategies to support your emotional well-being. This is not a crisis service.

Phoenix Australia

  • Useful resources to support health practitioners and community members during COVID-19. This is not a crisis service.

Victorian Department of Health

  • COVID-19 related mental health support services. This is not a crisis service.

For multilingual mental health resources:

Beyond Blue

  • Coronavirus translated mental wellbeing support service. This is not a crisis service.

Transcultural Mental Health Centre Resources

  • Several resources in multiple languages about wellbeing, stress and coping with disaster. This is not a crisis service.

Translating or interpreting:

For translating or interpreting call 131 450 first and tell them your language.  Click here for COVID-19 translated resources.  SBS Radio is also broadcasting COVID-19 news and information in your language.