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THE LATEST COVID INFORMATION – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE A DISABILITY

There is a lot of information out there at the moment about how people with disabilities can access COVID testing, vaccination and medical services - and it can be very confusing. CPSN's Natalie Corrigan explores what services are available for Victorians with disabilities.


By Natalie Corrigan We all thought 2022 would see some relief from COVID, but instead we have seen a surge in COVID cases, and as a result, the impact this virus has on the disability community remains high. Milder cases of Omicron continue to pose a significant risk to people with compromised immune systems. Rapid Antigen Tests (RATs) are in drastically short supply and waiting queues at testing sites are busier than before.


To enable greater access to testing for people with a disability, the government has taken steps to resolve this, however information around this remains unclear.


Here is some further information on the benefits people with disabilities can now access.

Concession Card Holders can get free Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT)



The decision got backlash from some, including opposition leader Anthony Albanese, who argued that these tests should be free to the entire population. However, this resource is critical for people like me, who can’t stand in a queue for hours or others who may need public transport. While it is a great concept, it has proved ineffective in theory.


In the days following the announcement, I scoured news sources looking for some actual clarification on how to access the scheme. With all the chemists in my local area posting that they had sold out of RATs, I doubted getting my hands on them would be as easy as those initial reports suggested.


After days of no further details, I decided to contact some local pharmacies; based on my conversations, pharmacy staff have been given no guidance on how concession cardholders can access the kits for free.


To date, the Federal Government has not provided these kits to chemists; instead, pharmacies are currently expected to provide these kits in addition to keeping RATs in stock for general customers. With the intense demand for RATs and the lack of available stock, pharmacies have been forced to adopt a first come, first-serve policy.


However, from January 24th, the National Cabinet is expected to roll out free RATs to six million concession, health and low-income cardholders.



Call-to-Test service


If you experience symptoms and have difficulty leaving your home due to your disability, you may be eligible for Victoria’s Call-to-Test Service. Here are some quick facts,

  • You must be over five years of age to access this service.

  • The service is available to moderate to severe disabilities (including psychosocial disabilities).

  • A nurse will visit your home within 48 - 72 hours of calling the Call-to-Test hotline. 

  • The Call-to-Test option is available in Regional Victoria.

For more information and to confirm if you are eligible, click here.


At-home vaccinations


In addition to at-home testing, people with disabilities can access vaccinations from their homes. Here are some quick facts,

  • A healthcare professional (such as a doctor or nurse) will come to your home to administer the vaccine.

  • It may take longer to get a vaccine than at a clinic depending on wait times.

  • You will need to complete a consent form.

For more information and to confirm if you are eligible, click here.

COVID-19 Home Medicines Service


If a person wishes to reduce contact and potential exposure to COVID-19, they can organise the delivery of medications to their home. This service may be particularly suitable to people with chronic health conditions or immunocompromised.


This service is available under The Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (RPBS).

Here are some quick facts,

  • The service is available to those who have been directed to quarantine until June 30, 2022

  • The service is free to access up to once a month

  • The service applies to PBS/RPBS listed medications; this does not include things such as over-the-counter painkillers and hand sanitiser

  • The service is available from participating pharmacies. You can contact your local pharmacy for more information on arranging delivery.

For more information and to confirm if you are eligible, click here.


How can a Disability Liaison Officer (DLO) help?


A Disability Liaison Officer assists people with disabilities to access health services, including accessing vaccines. Here are some quick facts. DLO’s can;

  • help book a COVID-19vaccination, including vaccination at home,

  • help organise group bookings for service providers or groups of people with disability,

  • provide advice on improved access to vaccination sites.

For more information and to find out how you can contact your local DLO, click here.


COVID hospital companion for people with disability


This resource is available for people with disabilities if they need to go into hospital. The COVID hospital companion helps to convey important personal information to health professionals such as;

  • personal details

  • key support people

  • the best form of communication

  • health information

  • medicine information.

Patients with disabilities can present this form to frontline workers to assist with their treatment.


To confirm if you are eligible and to download the form click here.


Wondering what you should do if you test positive?

If you are a close contact or test positive to COVID on a RAT or after a PCR test, you can find out detailed information on what steps to take by checking out the COVID checklist.


Amy Seeary is CPSN’s Telehealth Nurse. If you have any questions for Amy, or would like to book a Telehealth appointment, you can contact her on 9478 1001 or email cpsn@cpsn.org.au
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