COVID-19 and Parkinson’s
This page was updated on 17 May at 1.55pm. This advice will be updated as new information becomes available.
As always, the priority of Parkinson’s NSW is supporting people living with Parkinson’s, their families and caregivers amid these challenging times.
This page is intended to be a one-stop reference point giving you access to the facts and information that is relevant to you. Please bookmark this page as we will be updating the information regularly.
The Parkinson’s NSW specialist care team is here to support you by calling 1800 644 189 or emailing email@example.com
We will continue to update our website as new information becomes available.
Temporary COVID-19 restrictions imposed in NSW just over a week ago have been lifted.
Following advice from NSW Health, recent restrictions were lifted as of 12.01am on the morning of Monday 17 May.
- Limits will be removed on the number of guests allowed to visit private households, which had been capped at 20.
- Drinking while standing at indoor venues, group singing indoors and dancing at night clubs can resume.
- Masks will no longer be compulsory on public transport or for customer-facing staff in hospitality venues.
However. NSW Health continues to strongly encourage the use of masks on public transport and in other settings where physical distancing is not possible.
For more information, visit the NSW Government COVID-19 Restrictions Updates web page.
Latest Information on COVID-19 Vaccines
Are COVID-19 vaccines safe?
Yes. The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) rigorously assesses all COVID-19 vaccines for safety, quality and effectiveness.
While it may appear that vaccines have been developed very quickly, actually researchers have been working on them since the very earliest stages of the pandemic. They have been able to speed up development of vaccines through collaboration between them, scientists, manufacturers and distributors.
Once approved by the TGA there are further safeguards in place – each batch of vaccine is checked to make sure it meets quality standards.
Does the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine cause blood clots?
Australia’s medical experts in the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) have reviewed the data available on the incidence of rare blood clots after COVID-19 vaccination.
There has been a link established between the AstraZeneca vaccine and a very rare but serious side effect called thrombosis in combination with thrombocytopenia.
There is a very low chance of this side effect, which may occur in around 4-6 people in every million after being vaccinated with AstraZeneca.
This rate is lower than the natural background occurrence of a blood clot in people who have not received the AstraZeneca vaccine
As a result, ATAGI has recommended that the Pfizer vaccine is preferred for people under the age of 50.
If you are under the age of 50, you should discuss with your doctor whether you can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. Your doctor will weigh the potential risks against the benefits they expect the vaccine may have for you.
Learn more about the Astra Zeneca vaccine and thrombosis in combination with thrombocytopenia.
Who will receive the vaccines first and how is this decided?
The Australian Government, informed by ATAGI and other medical expert groups, has published detailed information outlining priority populations on the basis of a number of factors – including where COVID-19 infections are occurring, the risk of infection and severe disease, and the characteristics of the available vaccines.
The quickest way to check your eligibility is to use the Australian Department of Health Vaccine Eligibility Checker
Where can I access the vaccine and is it free?
COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone in Australia under the Australian COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.
Some people will be able to access the vaccine through their workplace (e.g. healthcare workers, residential aged care facility workers). Others will be able to access the vaccine through their General Practitioner, GP respiratory clinics, Aboriginal Controlled Community Health Services, and state-run vaccination clinics.
To find out if you are eligible to be vaccinated, check the COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Tracker. If you are eligible to be vaccinated now, you will be able to view vaccination clinics and book an appointment.
If you are not yet eligible, you can register your interest so you will be notified when you are able to book.
Stay informed by reading these regularly updated Covid-19 vaccine frequently asked questions
As of Monday, March 29 there will be:
- No caps on numbers at weddings and funerals
- No restrictions on singing anywhere
- No restrictions on dancing anywhere
- No cap on visitors in the home (however, if there are more than 100 people there must be a COVID-19 safety plan and electronic recording of visitor details)
- 200 people allowed at personal outdoor public gatherings
- All venues to move to 2 square metre rule (and venues will be allowed at least 25 people before the 2 square metre rule applies)
- 100 per cent seated capacity at entertainment venues (including stadiums, theatres etc)
- Mask use on public transport will move from “mandatory” to “strongly recommended”
It is important to note that people will still need to check in electronically at venues using QR codes.
What you need to know
Venues and businesses are required to record the details of people who visit or shop at that location. This enables contact tracing if a COVID-19 case is associated with that location.
Posters displaying Quick Response (QR) Codes are being used for this purpose (although many locations also provide the option of written registration).
QR Codes may seem intimidating at first, they are simply a version of the barcodes you see every day on consumer goods at your supermarket.
QR codes but they are a fast and accurate way for you to register at places you visit for COVID safety purposes.
This is what a QR code looks like – follow step 1 below to practice using your smartphone. You will be directed to the homepage of the Parkinson’s NSW website.
1. When you arrive at a venue, open the camera application on your smartphone and point it at the QR code on the poster. There is no need to take a photograph, just point the camera.
This will automatically open a window on your phone screen which will enable you to input your contact information for contact tracing purposes.
2. If you have the Service NSW application installed, you will automatically be taken to the check in.
If you don’t have the Service NSW application installed, you will be offered two options:
- Download the Service NSW application, create an account and check in
- Check in using an online form.
3. A staff member at the venue may ask to check the successful sign-in on your phone.
- It is important for the ongoing control of COVID-19 in NSW that anyone who has any symptoms, no matter how mild, continues to get tested immediately and self-isolate until a negative result is received.
- Symptoms include a runny nose, cough, sore or scratchy throat, fever, loss of smell or taste, or shortness of breath.
When should I see my doctor?
The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can have a range of symptoms (from no symptoms at all to pneumonia).
Symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- sore throat
- difficulty breathing
- muscle pain (myalgia)
- joint pain
- loss of sense of smell (anosmia)
- distortion the of sense of taste (dysgeusia)
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, use the healthdirect Symptom Checker to find out what to do next.
Help slow the spread of COVID-19
It is important to:
- Follow the rules about visiting other households, self-isolation and quarantine
- Practise good hand hygiene and physical distancing
- Take extra care if you’re around vulnerable people
- Get tested if you have any symptoms and stay home while you are waiting for test results.
Smartphone applications available for Coronavirus information and protection
The Australian Government Department of Health has released two smartphone applications (apps) to help citizens and the Government cope with the pandemic.
How is it spread?
The virus is most likely spread person-to-person through:
- Direct close contact with a person while they are infectious or 24 hours before their symptoms appeared
- Close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes
- Touching objects or surfaces (such as doorknobs and handles) contaminated by a cough or sneeze from an infectious person
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms include fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
If you have serious symptoms such as difficulty breathing, call 000 for urgent medical help.
How can we prevent the spread?
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
- Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and dispose of it in the bin, and wash your hands
- If you feel unwell, avoid contact with others (stay 1.5m apart from people)
How to wash your hands properly
What is social distancing?
The more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.
Steps for social distancing in all homes include:
- stay at home unless going out is absolutely necessary
- keep visitors to a minimum
- reduce visits to the shops — instead, buy more goods and services online if you can for pick-up, pre-order or delivery
- carefully consider what travel and outings are necessary, both individual and family
- regularly disinfect surfaces that are touched a lot, such as tables, kitchen benches and doorknobs
- increase ventilation in the home by opening windows or adjust air conditioning
Read the full social distancing guidance from the Department of Health here
For most people, coronavirus is a mild disease with a quick recovery. But for older Australians, it can be more serious.
Together, we can help stop the spread and stay healthy.
What does isolation in your home mean?
If you have been diagnosed with COVID-19, you must stay home to prevent it spreading to other people
- Do NOT go to public places such as work, school, shopping centres or university
- Ask a family member or friend to get food and other essentials and leave them at your door
- Do NOT let visitors in – only people who usually live with you should be in your home
What if I develop symptoms?
If you develop symptoms (fever, a cough, sore throat, tiredness or shortness of breath) within 14 days of arriving in Australia, or within 14 days of last contact of a confirmed case, you should arrange to see your doctor for urgent assessment.
It is imperative that you:
- Contact your GP’s office BEFORE you arrive to let them know if you have been overseas or in contact with someone who has been confirmed to have COVID-19
- You must isolate yourself either in your home, hotel or health care setting until authorities have informed you it is safe for you to return to usual activities
- If you have any questions, contact the InfoLine on 1800 644 189 or call the Coronavirus Health Information Line on 1800 020 080
Who is at most risk?
- People with a compromised immune system (e.g. cancer patients)
- Elderly people
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, as they have a higher rate of chronic illness
- People with chronic medical conditions (e.g. lung or heart disease)
- People in group residential settings
- People in detention facilities
What more can I do?
- Be kind to one another
- Stay connected through phone calls, text messages and social media
- Stay active
- Follow the information supplied by reliable sources
- Social distancing doesn’t need to mean social isolation
For the latest advice, information and resources:
- National Coronavirus Help Line 1800 020 080. It operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you require translating or interpreting services, call 131 450
- Your state or territory health agency. Contact details are available at www.health.gov.au/state-territory-contacts
- If you have concerns about your health, speak to your doctor (call before attending)
- Parkinson’s related information or advice call Parkinson’s NSW InfoLine 1800 644 189
- Australian Govt landing page which is frequently updated on COVID-19, Visit here.
- Australian Government Dept of Health daily status update visit here
- Australian Government Dept of Health on how to protect yourself and others visit here
- ACCC advice for consumers during COVID-19 situation – including consumer rights around travel and event cancellations, grocery pricing etc. Visit here
- World Health Organisation Q&A page on Coronavirus. Visit here
- Australian Taxation Office hotline for tax questions during COVID-19 situation. Visit here
- Australian Govt Department of Home Affairs re: latest travel alerts and restrictions, Visit here
- HealthDirect – Excellent FAQs on various aspects of COVID-19. Visit here
- Australian Psychological Society (APS) on how to deal with Coronavirus anxiety and how to maintain mental health during lock-down. Visit here
- ABC news guide to what’s open and what’s closed, and likely timeline. Visit here
Parkinson’s specific COVID-19 information
- Parkinson’s Foundation blog – live Q&A sessions about COVID and Parkinson’s. Visit here
- Michael J. Fox Foundation ‘Ask the MD’ content re: COVID and Parkinson’s. Visit here
- Shake It Up overview – overlaps with Michael J. Fox content above. Visit here
- Parkinson’s News Today (published from US) overview. Visit here
Emotional and mental well-being
- Beyond Blue has helpful tips on how to look after your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak.
- The Australian Psychological Society has an information sheet on how to cope with coronavirus anxiety.
- The World Health Organisation has issued a statement about mental health and the coronavirus.
- RUOK? have some tips about looking out for family members or friends who are struggling.
- ReachOut has ’10 ways to take care of yourself during coronavirus’.
- The Butterfly Foundation has tips and advice for people with eating disorders.
- Emerging Minds have resources about talking to children about disasters or traumatic events.
- Phoenix Australia has tips for you and your fami0 mly.
- Kids Helpline is a phone counselling service for children and young people.
- Wayahead Directory has a list of mental health and community services.
- Centre for Rural and Remote Mental Health for resources, information and support.
- Orygen has information for young people and families.
- Roses in the Ocean has mental health tips for working from home
- Centres for disease control and prevention has tips on managing stress and anxiety
- Mindspot – staying mentally and physically well
- Head to Health – mental health tips
- YouTube Parkinson’s-specific exercise to do at home:
- Balance exercises go here
- Coordination exercises go here
Lighter information on coping during self-isolation
- Epicurious web site on cooking and eating during the Coronovirus era. Visit here
- SMH: How people locked down in other countries are coping. Visit here
- SMH: The non-panicky guide to cooking your way through quarantine. Visit here
- RSPCA is encouraging people in self-isolation to adopt pets. Read here
- SBS: Coronavirus and your dog – no need to panic yet. Read here