News in brief: Fourth COVID jab for cancer patients; Contribute to the Australian Cancer Plan; Trial to test primary care strategy for NETs

11 Jan 2022

ATAGI recommends fourth COVID jab for cancer patients

Immunocompromised adults who have received three primary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine are now also recommended to have a booster or 4th dose for optimal protection.

ATAGI’s latest recommendations included that boosters should be provided at a 4-month interval after the primary course of vaccination, and when there is more capacity, as early as 3 months.

In its 24 December statement, ATAGI said a timely booster dose was particularly important for people with risk factors for severe disease including those aged ≥60 years, with underlying medical conditions, in aged/disability care and Indigenous Australians.

ATAGI warned booster vaccination alone will not be sufficient to avert a surge due to the Omicron variant.

“However, maximising booster coverage by expanding eligibility and encouraging high uptake, in combination with enhanced public health and social measures, may prevent a large surge in case numbers, hospitalisations and deaths.”

Contribute to the Australian Cancer Plan

Individuals and organisations are invited to ‘be bold and think big’ and provide their vision for a transformational Australian Cancer Plan for the decade 2023-2033.

Development of the proposed plan has already incorporated a Ministerial Roundtable held last year featuring key opinion leaders including Cancer Australia’s Professor Dorothy Keefe, COSA president Professor Fran Boyle, the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Center’s Professor Grant McArthur, along with consumer, Indigenous and health system perspectives.

Professor Keefe’s presentation highlighted the many successes in cancer control in Australia but said there was a case for change and a call for overarching direction.

Some of the principles underpinning the Plan include the pursuit of equity in health outcomes, closing the gap, patient/consumer centric care, and encompassing the whole continuum of cancer care.

Responses to an online survey or uploaded submissions through the Consultation Hub – open until 18 February 2022 – will help shape the focus and direction of the Plan.

Have your say here.

Trial to test primary care strategy for NETs

A $2.37 million boost from the MRFF is facilitating a trial of a nurse-enabled, shared-care model to address the unmet needs of people with neuroendocrine tumours (NETs).

Lead investigator of the AUS-NET trial, Professor Raymond Chan said it will evaluate the effectiveness of shifting follow-up care for patients with NETs away from acute hospital settings to GPs and other health professionals.

“What our model will do is to treat people away from specialised cancer centres, in some cases reducing the need to travel, and instead shift the care to a multidisciplinary healthcare team, including the patient’s specialist team, general practitioners, practice nurses, and community allied health practitioners.”

Professor Chan, director of the Flinders University’s Caring Futures Institute, said the trial will be the first to test a shared care model in the management of rare cancers.

AUS-NET will involve 504 patients currently receiving treatment for NETs at five cancer centres of excellence in South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia.

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