The roll-out of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has begun. Generally, the advertising of vaccines to consumers is prohibited in Australia, however some exceptions are now in place to support the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.
To explain these exceptions, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued a fact sheet which shows how vaccine providers and other parties can lawfully provide information about and promote COVID-19 vaccines. The TGA fact sheet is summarised in this article.
Dos of vaccine promotion
It is acceptable to:
- use Australian Commonwealth, State or Territory Government produced materials to promote COVID-19 vaccines
- add practical factual information to government materials to assist the public in obtaining the vaccine such as:
- the location of the COVID-19 vaccination service
- times vaccines are administered or opening hours of the service provider, and
- whether there is a need for an appointment to receive the vaccination and, if so, how to make one, and
- provide the factual information listed above, independently of government materials, to assist the public in obtaining the vaccine.
When using government materials, vaccine providers must ensure that the materials are:
- not altered or added to, other than to record the factual information described above, and
- not used in a way that may alter the take-home message for consumers, through either placement of the materials or proximity to other promotional materials.
Don’ts of vaccine promotion
It is prohibited to use self-developed advertising about COVID-19 vaccines. In using government materials, be careful not to add:
- the tradename and/or active ingredient of the specific vaccine
- statements or the implication that harmful effects will result from not receiving the vaccine
- statements or the implication that the vaccine offered is superior to other vaccines (e.g. a statement about the efficacy against a particular strain)
- incentives to encourage a consumer to obtain the service or vaccine, and
- any comparisons between vaccines (even if supported by evidence).
To avoid contravention of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth), vaccine providers and parties wishing to promote either the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine should ensure that they adhere to these guidelines.
The TGA fact sheet in its entirety can be accessed here.
This article was written by Special Counsel, Hayley Bowman and Solicitor, Yashila de Silva. If you have any questions about COVID-19 vaccine promotion, please contact Hayley Bowman.