COVID-19, Hepatitis and Liver Disease FAQs

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COVID-19, Hepatitis and Liver Disease FAQs

Updated 24th January 2022

You may have concerns about COVID-19, especially if you have viral hepatitis or liver disease. We have gathered information from health authorities and government bodies to answer any questions you may have. If your question doesn’t have an answer, please get in touch via our online chat, call our Infoline on 1800 437 222 or send us a message.

Requirements for COVID-19 are constantly changing, please check the Queensland Government website for the latest advice.

While having an existing health condition does not put you at greater risk of catching COVID-19, it may put you at a higher risk of serious illness if you catch the virus.

The following groups have a higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19:

  • People living with hepatitis B or C alongside other health conditions (e.g. diabetes or hypertension)
  • People living with chronic health conditions (e.g. advanced liver disease)
  • People with weakened immune systems (e.g. people on immune-suppressing medications, people receiving cancer treatments)
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • People who have had transplants
  • Older people – particularly those aged 70 or over
  • Unvaccinated people

You can reduce your risk by getting vaccinated, wearing a mask, practising good hygiene and social distancing. People with chronic health conditions should talk to their doctor if they test positive for COVID-19 or have any concerns.

Further information

The Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) have a number of resources available for managing patients with liver disease during COVID-19.

The ASHM COVID-19 task force on HIV, Viral Hepatitis and Sexual Health provide guidance and evidence-based updates on the impact of COVID-19 for the blood-borne virus (BBV) and sexual health workforce, sector partners and affected communities.

Vaccination is the best form of protection from COVID-19, this includes people with underlying health conditions such as chronic liver disease.

Guidelines recommend people living with chronic hepatitis B, and those with a current or previous hepatitis C infection should be regarded as having chronic liver disease and therefore receive the vaccine before the general population.

Advice from the Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) recommends patients with chronic liver disease be vaccinated as early as possible. To decide which vaccine is right for you and your individual circumstances, please talk to your doctor.

COVID-19 vaccines do not contain a live virus and will not be affected by anti-viral medication. Always talk to your doctor about any medications you are taking.

More information – AASLD Expert Panel Consensus Statement: Vaccines to prevent COVID-19 infection in patients with liver disease

People with chronic medical conditions such as liver disease are at increased risk if they contract COVID-19. As there is no cure for COVID-19 the best form of protection is vaccination.

Advice from the Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) recommends patients with chronic liver disease be vaccinated as early as possible. To decide which vaccine is right for you and your individual circumstances, please talk to your doctor.

The Transplantation Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ) is supportive of COVID-19 immunisation and has successfully advocated for organ recipients to be highly prioritised. Visit TSANZ for more information.

To find a vaccination clinic in your area visit the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Checker. Once you have completed the quiz you can use the Vaccine Clinic Finder to see clinics near you and make contact for an appointment.

Side effects can include a sore arm where you have been injected, fever and muscle aches. Clinical evidence shows side effects are mild and short-term. The vaccines are currently being monitored to detect any long-term effects. In the short term, we know being vaccinated significantly reduces the risk of hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines have been shown to be safe and effective and are recommended for all Australians from 12 years of age, including those with liver conditions. There are very few situations where a vaccine is not recommended and medical exemptions are rarely required. Find out more about immunisation exemptions here.

Patients with some acute major medical conditions, and those who are undergoing major surgery or hospital admission for a serious illness, may be eligible for a temporary exemption for up to six months. Find out more about temporary COVID-19 vaccination exemptions here.

Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns or want more information.

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends a third primary dose of COVID-19 vaccine in individuals who are severely immunocompromised. The Gastroenterological Society of Australia (GESA) has provided guidance on which patients with gastrointestinal or liver disorders should consider a third vaccine dose. More information is available here.

Information about how the COVID-19 vaccines are developed, tested and approved is available from the Australian Government Department of Health.

If you feel sick and have any COVID-19 symptoms get tested and isolate until you have your results. You can get a PCR test at a testing and fever clinic or use a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to confirm if you have COVID-19.

Testing requirements may change as the prevalence of COVID-19 changes. Be sure to check the most up to date testing requirements for Queensland.

The following steps apply to anyone who tests positive on a PCR test or Rapid Antigen Test (RAT). If you tested positive on a RAT, you must report your positive result to Queensland Health.

  • Immediately isolate for 7 days. This can be at your home or other accommodation, where you can minimise your contact with other people as much as possible. Call 134 268 if you do not have a suitable place to isolate.
  • Tell your household contacts to isolate and get tested if they have symptoms. Household contacts also need to isolate and get tested on day 6 of their isolation or earlier, if they begin to develop COVID-19 symptoms. Read more about who is a household or household-like contact.
  • Tell your social, work and education contacts to get tested if they have symptoms. You must tell anyone you had contact with either in the two days before you tested positive or two days before your symptoms started.
  • Get things you need delivered, including food and medication. If this is not available for you, the Community Recovery Hotline can help. Call 1800 173 349.
  • Take care of yourself. People living with chronic health conditions should seek advice from their doctor or specialist if they have COVID-19, or if you are not improving after 2 or 3 days. Explore some tips on how to look after your mental wellbeing.

Read more about the first steps to take when you have COVID-19.

No, unless advised by your treating doctor or specialist.

If you test positive to COVID-19, and are living with hepatitis B, hepatitis C, or liver disease, it is important to talk to your doctor. There are options for telehealth if you are unable to or worried about visiting your doctor in person.

It is important to maintain regular contact with your doctor, and ask for a liver health check if you have not had one in the last 6 months.

There are a number of things you can do to be ready for COVID-19.

Prepare a COVID-Ready Kit
A COVID-Ready Kit will help prepare you or someone in your household test positive for COVID-19 and you need to isolate at home.

Your COVID-Ready Kit should include:

  • A thermometer
  • Pain relief
  • Two weeks supply of your regular medications
  • A plan for who can look after your children, pets, or people in your care if you have to go to hospital.
  • Masks, hand sanitiser and gloves
  • A plan for how you’ll get food and essentials
  • Phone numbers for services and people outside your home you can call for help
  • Stay-at-home activities
  • COVID Care Plan (see below)

Prepare a COVID Care Plan
This will help you outline important information about you, your health, and others in your household. You can share the COVID Care Plan with your doctor, other health workers, hospital staff or friends and family members.

COVID-19 Readiness Family Plan for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
The COVID-19 Readiness Family Plan will help you and those that regularly live in your household prepare for COVID-19, isolating at the home, and arranging supplies.

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