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What can I do to prepare for COVID?

Once a household case is detected, it's too late for any member of the household to go shopping — that's why it may be helpful to have some basic things on hand, both for infection control and managing symptoms. Things you can include in your preparation kit include:

  • Cleaning products and sanitiser
  • Rapid Antigen Tests (if possible)
  • 2 weeks supply of regular medication
  • Thermometer and pulse oximeter
  • Symptom relief medication (e.g. pain relief, cold & flu tablets, throat lozenges, etc.)
  • Frozen meals & non-perishable food
  • Stay at home activities
  • Contact details of support people outside of your home.
  • A plan for how to access extra food, pet care, and what happens if you need to go to hospital


What symptoms should I be looking out for?

People with a confirmed case of COVID-19 have reported a wide range of symptoms which can range from mild to severe. Common COVID symptoms can include fever or chills, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, new loss of smell or taste, and runny or blocked nose. For additional symptom information, visit: Symptoms - COVID-19 (act.gov.au)

 

I am living with HIV, does that mean I am severely immunocompromised?

If you are living with HIV, being severely immunocompromised means that your CD4 T cell count is less than 250, or you are not currently on effective HIV treatment. If this does not apply to you, you are not severely immunocompromised. As always, speak to your GP or healthcare provider for information specific to you. 


Are there additional risks for people who are severely immunocompromised and the new Omicron variant?

Each person’s individual risk depends on many different factors. Severely immunocompromised people are likely to have a higher chance of acquiring the Omicron variant even after 3 doses of the vaccine.

If you acquire COVID-19 and are severely immunocompromised, you may be eligible for the COVID [email protected] program for further assistance and support.


What is long-COVID and are people who are severely immunocompromised at an increased risk of having long-lasting effects?

If you are suffering from symptoms as a result of COVID-19 after recovering from the initial illness, you may have ‘long-COVID'. Symptoms could include fatigue, headaches, joint or chest pain, a persistent cough and ‘brain fog', where you may face memory loss or difficulty thinking clearly. There are ongoing studies about long-COVID, and there is a lot that is still unknown. However, being vaccinated can reduce your chances of having severe or long-lasting symptoms of COVID.

The COVID [email protected] team or your GP can refer you to the Post-COVID Recovery Clinic at the University of Canberra Hospital.
For questions or concerns regarding accessing community-based health services, including support for managing symptoms of long COVID-19, you can contact Central Health Intake (CHI) on (02) 5124 9977.

 



Isolation and staying at home:


What services will I need and how can I access them?

For information about services and support, visit: Services and support - COVID-19 (act.gov.au)


How can I look after my mental health?

Coping with isolation and being separated from loved ones can be difficult, distressing, and overwhelming. ACT Health have a resource of things you can do to help with these feelings: Mental Health and Wellbeing during COVID-19 | Health (act.gov.au)


If you or someone you know is in crisis, please use the contacts below:

In an emergency always contact 000.

Access Mental Health open 24/7 | 6205 1065 or 1800 184 527.

QLife: Open 3pm – Midnight | 1800 184 527 | qlife.org.au

Lifeline: Open 24/7 | 13 11 14 | lifeline.org.au

Domestic Violence Crisis Service: Open 24/7 | (02) 6280 0900 | dvcs.org.au

For emergency food, accommodation or other supports visit:

www.volunteeringact.org.au/about/publications-and-reports/info-guides/

or www.covid19.act.gov.au/services-and-support

For those under the age of 25, there are also the following services available:

Kids Helpline: Open 24/7 | 1800 551 800 | kidshelpline.com.au

Eheadspace: 1800 650 890 | heatspace.org.au/eheadspace


How do I find financial support?

For information about financial support services, visit: Financial support - COVID-19 (act.gov.au)


I am concerned about food security; how do I access food?

For information about food relief and support services, visit: Food relief - COVID-19 (act.gov.au)

 



Vaccinations


Why should I get vaccinated?

Vaccines are one of the most effective ways to protect against communicable diseases, like COVID-19. You should get vaccinated against COVID-19 to protect yourself against the severe effects of COVID-19, to protect the whole community, and to reduce the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic. For more information about the COVID-19 vaccine and how it works, visit: Learn how the vaccine works - COVID-19 (act.gov.au)


When should I get vaccinated?

If you are not yet vaccinated, everyone aged 5 years and over can book in to get a COVID-19 vaccine right now.

For information about the timing of vaccine doses click here.


What are the most common side effects after getting vaccinated?

People who get vaccinated may experience some mild side effects. Common side effects include pain, redness and/or swelling near the injection site, headache, and a mild fever. For more information about side effects, click here.


What is the difference between a third dose and a booster?

Third doses are for severely immunocompromised people as an additional dose to their 2-dose primary course. This is to maximise the level of immune response to as close as possible to the general population. It is recommended that people who are severely immunocompromised receive their third COVID-19 vaccine 2 to 6 months after the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
A booster dose is for adults in the general population, 4 months after their second dose.

In addition, severely immunocompromised individuals who have received 3 doses are recommended a booster dose (fourth dose) 4 months after their third dose.
For more information about third doses and boosters, visit: COVID-19 vaccines: booster doses and third doses - COVID-19 (act.gov.au)


Do you need a 4th vaccination if you are severely immunocompromised?

Severely immunocompromised individuals who have received 3 doses are recommended a booster dose (fourth dose) 4 months after their third dose.


I've already received two vaccinations; can I get my booster shot sooner? How do I organise this?

Booster doses can only be booked by people who received their second or third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine 4 months ago.
You can get a booster dose at:


Is it safe to get a COVID vaccination/booster if I’ve recently had COVID-19?

It is safe for people who have had COVID-19 to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccination can be deferred for up to 6 months as past infection reduces the chance of reinfection for at least this amount of time.

There is no requirement to delay vaccination. You can get vaccinated any time after you have recovered and have been released from isolation.
People might choose to be vaccinated if they:

  • Are severely immunocompromised and may be at greater risk of getting COVID-19 again
  • Have a job that requires them to be vaccinated
  • Have a job that puts them at greater risk of being exposed to COVID-19.

People should delay vaccination until they have recovered from the acute illness.


Please note: Please speak to your GP or healthcare provider for advice specific to you.

 



Testing:


Where can I get tested?

For all information about testing clinics and wait times, visit: Where to get tested in the ACT - COVID-19


I cannot afford or am unable to purchase a RAT (rapid antigen test), is there any priority testing service for people with HIV?

Accessing Rapid Antigen Tests can be very difficult at the moment. Developments are currently underway to aid in accessing these tests, including more readily available stock and free tests for eligible people. Free Rapid Antigen Tests may be made available at ACT Government testing sites. 

From Monday, 24 January 2022, access to free RATs is available to those who hold an eligible Commonwealth concession card:

  • Commonwealth Senior Health Care Card
  • Department of Veteran’s Affairs Gold, White or Orange Card
  • Health Care Card
  • Low Income Health Card
  • Pensioner Concession Card.

Those who are eligible can access up to 10 RATs over a 3 month period (max 5 over a 1 month period) through participating community pharmacies in person and present their Commonwealth concession card. More information is available in the National Cabinet statement from the Prime Minister.

As this is a recent development, it may still be difficult to access Rapid Antigen Tests in pharmacies currently. More stock should be made available soon. We will update this page with further information about accessing Rapid Antigen Tests as developments are made.

 



Information for Parents and Carers:


COVID-19 Vaccines for Children

Balancing Work and Life as a Work-From-Home Parent

 



Social gatherings:


Many of my friends are planning and organising social events that I believe are too high risk to attend. How can I explain that I'm not able to attend without revealing my HIV status?

It can be daunting to have a conversation about personal safety and risk with friends and loved ones. When having this conversation, you do not need to disclose your HIV status. Let your friends know that you don’t feel safe attending these social events in the current state of the pandemic, and that you’d prefer something more COVID-safe. There are many reasons why people may not feel safe attending social events at this time, and you do not owe your friends an explanation or disclosure of your status for your feelings of safety to be valid.
If you need more support, contact Meridian’s Client Services team on 02 6257 2855 during business hours.


The people I live with are engaging in high-risk social activities and not wearing masks. I'm afraid for my health. I'm not able to move out. I feel abandoned and put at risk by the people I live with. Who can I talk to?

Feeling unsafe and afraid for your health can be distressing when things are out of your control. For support, you can speak to:

Head to Health Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5pm: 1800 595 212.

Access Mental Health open 24/7 | 6205 1065 or 1800 184 527.

QLife: Open 3pm – Midnight | 1800 184 527 | qlife.org.au

For those under the age of 25, there are also the following services available:

Kids Helpline: Open 24/7 | 1800 551 800 | kidshelpline.com.au

Eheadspace: 1800 650 890 | headspace.org.au/eheadspace

 



Activism:


I feel the Australian Government has abandoned people with chronic illnesses and the elderly. Is there a petition or action I can take to ensure my voice is heard?

Meridian offers advocacy services for people living with HIV. We are fierce advocates for our communities, and we take action to ensure the needs of our communities are being met. To speak to the Meridian’s Client Services team about advocacy, call 02 6257 2855.


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