The Winter Strategy 2022 supports our medical services during the winter period and combined with our COVID-19 plans, ensures the health system can provide the highest quality care for Tasmanians during the busy winter months.
Winter strategy 2022
Given the ongoing levels of COVID-19 in the Tasmanian community and the likelihood of COVID-19 case transmission continuing through 2022, the Department of Health has released a 2022 Winter Strategy to guide the States preparation to manage both COVID-19 and influenza peaks should they singly or both occur in tandem.
The 2022 Winter Strategy has been informed by consultation led by the Health Emergency Operations Centre Winter planning working group, including public and private representatives across the health sector. The Strategy is a living document, designed to evolve with a fluid COVID-19 and influenza environment, and is subject to further feedback from our key health stakeholders and the Tasmanian community.
If you would like to provide feedback on the 2022 Winter Strategy, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As usual, Tasmania’s primary care sector will provide the frontline response to managing influenza and other respiratory illnesses during Winter 2022.
The Department of Health will work to support primary health care providers in their role as immunisers and responders, and fill any vaccination or respiratory illness management gaps, particulary in rural and regional areas.
An adapted COVID@Home program will sit between the GP response and hospitals where individuals need increased levels of monitoring to maintain their recovery in their own homes. The admission pathway will focus on risk assessment, and will be primarily by GP/medical referral or by consumer opt-in and triage.
The Department of Health will lead a heightened response for the 2022 winter period, which includes:
- Increased COVID and Influenza vaccination rates particularly for vulnerable cohorts
- Increased levels of testing to detect influenza and COVID and ensure timely and accurate treatment
- Increased hospital avoidance and primary care support
- Maintaining the additional COVID bed capacity in our hospitals
- Continuing to build and maintain COVID and influenza treatment stockpiles and increase availability, including through pre-positioning.
The principal tool to reduce the impact of influenza in the Tasmanian community is maximising vaccination.
The objectives for the 2022 influenza vaccination campaign are to:
- Maximise coverage in groups most vulnerable to severe outcomes (National Immunisation Program (NIP) eligible cohorts, 205,000 doses of vaccine ordered, to be delivered by Primary Care – GPs and Pharmacists)
- Target record coverage across the rest of the population, with a focus on critical sectors – to reduce the impact of influenza on Tasmania’s health system, the economy and the community (An additional 100,000 free doses will be made available to critical sectors/members of vulnerable households).
The Department will develop and implement targeted programs to maximise vaccination coverage:
- NIP eligible people
- Disability: people with disabilities, their family/household members, and disability support workers
- Aged Care: workers in residential aged care facilities, in-home and community-based aged care, and family/household members of older people
- People in rural and remote areas without access to vaccination providers
- Workers in other critical industries:
- Food, agriculture, aquaculture
- Education and early childhood education and care
- Freight, logistics and manufacturing
- Emergency management (including prisons and correctional facilities)
Testing for COVID and flu is critical over the winter period as symptoms are similar, so distinguishing the two – flu versus COVID – by clinical examination can be challenging.
Testing for flu and COVID at the same time will allow people who test positive for flu or COVID to be isolated with specific procedures to prevent the spread of the virus. This is essential to ensure people receive appropriate care, to protect the community and also to protect nurses, doctors and other healthcare professionals.
The Department of Health will conduct testing for influenza alongside COVID PCR testing from a single swab (such as those collected through COVID testing clinics) for people vulnerable to severe illness. This will be scaled in response to rates of transmission in the community.
Testing in high-risk settings including hospitals, residential aged care facilities and residential disability settings is of particular clinical value, and will support the management of outbreaks in these settings.
Flu and other respiratory illnesses including COVID can increase demand on Tasmania’s healthcare system during winter. To date most people in Tasmania with COVID have been able to safely recover in the community without the need for hospitalisation.
Alternative care pathways will be provided, such as:
The COVID@home virtual care program will be expanded to include other respiratory illnesses.
The program will focus on presentation and admission avoidance and will work collaboratively with General Practice to identify at risk patients.
The program will continue to provide a remote monitoring service and 24/7 care contact.
Over 250 hotel rooms have been secured to provide accommodation to COVID positive people that are unable to safely isolate at home or in their temporary accommodation (eg. traveller, seasonal worker).
Extended GP-Led Respiratory Clinics
The GP-led respiratory clinics support assessment and management of respiratory illness and will be crucial for hospital avoidance over the winter period. The Commonwealth has confirmed an extension of funding support for GP Respiratory Clinics to 30 September 2022.
Extended Case Management Facilities
COVID Case Management Facilities (CCMFs) are in place in all three Regions. CCMFs provide care in an environment which is at a higher level than a home environment, but which is not at the same level as a Hospital.
CCMFs act as a higher-level hospital avoidance program.
The concept can be applied to Influenza and Respiratory Viruses and DoH will work to adapt the model of care to include case management facilities in the clinical pathway.
Expanded hospital bed capacity has been established to respond to COVID and will be maintained across winter 2022.
A number of strategies have been identified to manage demand for beds at our public hospitals during winter, including the Statewide Access and Flow Program, our collaboration with private hospitals and more than 872 additional FTE recruited since July 2020 and further recruitment underway.
These strategies have been tailored to each region and include community-based options to divert people from unnecessary hospital care and creating additional bed capacity to specifically treat flu, respiratory illness and COVID.
The Tasmanian Health Service operates COVID escalation plans which re-configure emergency departments, wards, surgery and ICU areas to enable hospitalisation and treatment of COVID patients when required.
Plans are also in place for District Hospitals and Private Hospitals across the state to support the State’s COVID response, as required.
Since the beginning of COVID, Tasmania has maintained a stockpile of medication required to treat COVID and in particular, patients requiring ventilation due to COVID.
This stockpile has been expanded to include the medication required for influenza.
In addition, in recent times the Australian Government has pre-positioned COVID oral medication at Residential Aged Care Facilities. Influenza treatment, such as Tamiflu, will also be prepositioned in preparation for the Winter flu season.
Map and Infographics
Tasmanian Government flu vaccine clinics
As part of the Tasmanian Government’s 2022 Winter Strategy, the Department of Health is providing free flu vaccination clinics for eligible Tasmanians.
Where to get more information
- For advice and information about flu and flu vaccines visit our flu section
- For advice and information about COVID-19, visit Tasmania's Coronavirus website
- Call the Public Health Hotline – Tasmania on 1800 671 738
- Call HealthDirect on 1800 022 222 or visit the HealthDirect website, 24 hours a day.