Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccines: Updates on use of rapid antigen tests


Rapid antigen tests (RATs) can now be used to diagnose COVID-19 in residential accommodation settings. Eligible NDIS participants can purchase RATs with their NDIS funding.

  • RATs can now be used as an alternative to PCR testing to diagnose COVID-19 in residential accommodation settings
  • NDIS participants with core funding can use plans to claim for RATs where they are required to access funded supports
  • All states and territories have issued public health orders or directions with mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements for workers. Providers are strongly encouraged to check the details of the public health orders in their state or territory and any requirements for providers in respect of the vaccination status of disability workers.
  • All NDIS participants and disability workers are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Information and support to access COVID-19 vaccinations and booster doses should be facilitated, to both NDIS participants and workers

Use of RATs to diagnose COVID-19

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has released a statement on the use of rapid antigen tests (RATs) for current high community prevalence environments.

Due to the significant increase in COVID-19 cases, PCR testing capacity is limited. As a result, RATs can now be used for early detection as an alternative to PCR testing in residential accommodation settings.

RATs can be used for the following 3 purposes:

  • As a diagnostic test as an alternative to PCR for those at high risk of having COVID-19. In most circumstances in the current high-prevalence environment, a positive rapid antigen test should be accepted as a diagnosis of COVID-19.
  • To manage outbreaks.
  • To help early identification of cases in high-risk settings.

Please refer to the statement from AHPPC for further guidance on using RATs to detect early cases of COVID-19 including in residential accommodation settings.

Providers should continue to monitor state and territory government health information for local advice and updates on COVID-19 testing, tracing, isolating and quarantining.

NDIS plan funding can be used to purchase RATs

The Australian Government has confirmed that eligible NDIS participants can purchase rapid antigen tests with funding from their NDIS plan, where required to ensure safe access to their supports in current COVID-19 outbreaks.

Participants may also purchase rapid antigen tests for their support workers as needed to ensure they can safely receive supports, in line with AHPPC guidance.

More information is available on the NDIS website.

Promoting access to COVID-19 vaccinations and boosters

Supporting NDIS participants to access COVID-19 vaccinations

All NDIS participants aged 5 years and over are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Participants aged 18 and older are also eligible for a booster dose if they have completed their primary course of a COVID-19 vaccination at least four months ago. Some states and territories have moved to include people who completed a primary course at least 3 months ago. Providers should monitor state and territory government information regarding booster timeframes.

The NDIS Commission have published a statement about the right of people with disability to make their own decision about COVID-19 vaccination, and the role of NDIS providers and workers in supporting participants. This was sent to registered providers on 5 November 2021.

Providers should take all steps to assist participants that they support to access the vaccination where they need assistance to do so, including boosters. Further information is available on the Department of Health website, including Easy Read and Auslan resources.

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