Published: 29 April, 2020
A round-up of the news for primary care
Influenza vaccination can now be offered to all patients
As of Wednesday, 29 April 2020, the influenza vaccine can now be offered to all patients, including those not eligible for funded vaccination, i.e. people
who wish to pay for the vaccine themselves. However, vaccination should continue to be prioritised for any remaining high-risk people eligible for a funded
vaccine. Waitlists are to be expected.
Update: vaccinations for children aged 6-35 months with Afluria Quad Junior should currently be reserved only for those eligible for
funded vaccinations, for more information, see here
Funding application approvals have been temporarily extended
Special Authorities (SA), Named Patient Pharmaceutical Assessment (NPPA) and other exceptional circumstance approvals
that were due to expire during March or April have now been extended for three months. Changes will be applied automatically
in the Electronic Special Authority System. This means:
- Approvals due to expire on 31 March now expire on 30 June, 2020; approvals that expired before
31 March will not automatically be extended (a new submission will need to be made)
- Approvals due to expire on 30 April now expire on 31 July, 2020
If a SA renewal application is made before the new expiry date – and it is approved – then the extension
will be automatically incorporated into the new approval, e.g. a six-month renewal for a SA that expired on 30 April
will now be extended to 31 October. Renewals for NPPA approvals can be made before their expiry date, however, PHARMAC
will continue to decide their duration on a case-by-case basis.
Special Authority criteria have also been changed for a number of medicines during the COVID-19 pandemic
to support the health sector by alleviating some testing or monitoring requirements that may otherwise interrupt access
for some patients. The timeframe that these changes will remain in place has not yet been determined; PHARMAC will
monitor and assess the situation as we move through different alert levels.
For a full list of
medicines with amended access criteria, see here.
Hyoscine patches: as of 1 May 2020, initial
applications for funded hyoscine hydrobromide patches (scopolamine) can
now also be made for the symptomatic relief of respiratory secretions in patients receiving palliative care in the
community if it is not possible to access injectable hyoscine (approvals valid for one month – this is a change related
to the pandemic response).
Update on Noriday supplies
PHARMAC has updated their
information about the supply of Noriday. Some supplies are now available, and orders are being filled at the wholesaler level.
A further shipment of Noriday is due in early May and this will allow all back orders to be filled, and supply constraints to be removed.
Virtual consultations count towards visits for high user health card
Virtual consultations can be counted towards the 12 or more health practitioner consultations required over a 12-month period to qualify
for a high user health card (HUHC) in patients with an ongoing medical condition. This should be documented in the patient's notes.
For more information on HUHCs, see here.
Back to work
As people begin to return to work, you may have an increase in enquiries about whether it is safe to do so. A reminder that household contacts of positive
or suspected cases of COVID-19 are required to isolate for 14 days (or until COVID-19 is ruled out in a suspected case). Factsheets
for contacts are available here. There should be a low threshold for testing suspected cases.
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