Create your action plan

Pre planning for getting Covid-19

Many people living in bushfire or flood-prone areas have a detailed action plan for their households to use in emergencies. With COVID-19 case numbers currently increasing rapidly in Australia, it is a good idea for every household to create their own action plan full of essential information so that those around you know what to do if one or more of you contracts COVID-19.

The Australian Government and state and territory governments all have general COVID-19 information on their websites. Check these websites regularly for local information updates.

The most important thing you can do to minimise your risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms is to ensure you and your household are all up-to-date with your COVID-19 vaccinations. This is because:

  • If you are not vaccinated, or if you have not completed your full primary vaccination course, you are more likely to need hospitalisation if you are infected.
  • COVID-19 vaccinations help your body to build up protection against variants of COVID-19. They reduce the likelihood of you catching the virus and help minimise your risk of developing severe symptoms. People whose immune systems do not function effectively are said to be immunocompromised. This includes people who are undergoing treatment for cancer, organ transplant recipients, or people with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, multiple sclerosis or type 1 diabetes.
    Some medications used to treat these conditions can also suppress the immune system, making people more vulnerable to infections.
    As a result, immunosuppressed people have a higher risk of developing severe complications from either COVID-19, their existing health issues or both if they catch the virus.

It is recommended that severely immunosuppressed people have three primary doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as the standard two doses might not be enough to help their immune system mount a strong enough defence against the virus. 

The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends a booster dose for adults, 4 months after their second primary dose. In addition, immunocompromised individuals who have received 3 doses as part of their primary course are recommended a booster dose (fourth dose) 4 months after their third dose. This interval will reduce to 3 months from 31 January 2022.

ATAGI also recommends that anyone aged 12 or older who is unvaccinated should receive a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. Children aged 5-11 years can receive a paediatric dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

Children with medical risk factors for severe illness, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children, and children living in crowded conditions or outbreak areas are most likely to benefit from COVID-19 vaccination given their increased risk of severe outcomes and/or exposure.

Further information on COVID-19 booster vaccination is available on the Australian Department of Health website.

Medical supplies:

  • Rapid Antigen Tests – Supplies of these tests are currently very limited across the country. See the “Getting Tested” section below for more information on how to access and use these tests.
  • Surgical masks – Ideally N95 or P2 masks if you can access them.
  • Paracetamol or ibuprofen for mild fever and muscular pain
  • Anti-nausea treatments
  • Personal thermometer plus spare batteries
  • Pulse oximeter (optional) – These clip onto your finger and measure your pulse and oxygen level. Some symptomatic people may have these supplied by their GP or health department after reporting a positive test result, however, this may depend on where you live and the severity of your symptoms.
  • CO2 meter plus spare batteries (optional) – Measuring the level of carbon dioxide emissions in poorly ventilated spaces is one way to assess the risk of airborne virus transmission.
  • Portable air purifier (optional) – Air purifiers can create a localised airflow around them and stop infectious particles from getting far from the room they were expelled in.  (See the Ventilation section below for more information about air quality in your home.)

Some grocery suggestions:

Retail stock of many grocery and medical items is currently very limited across Australia. Here’s a list of groceries recommended by patients in our community and their household members who have recently lived with COVID-19.

You may not be able to access or afford everything on this list but you may not need every item either. In some cases, you could substitute items with other products you have at home. Use this list as a guide but create your own list based on what is practical and affordable for you at this time:

  • Nappies
  • Pet food and pet litter
  • Household disinfectant
  • Mineral water or lemonade
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Hand soap
  • Disposable gloves
  • Tissues
  • Throat lozenges
  • Nasal drops or sprays for congestion
  • Menthol or decongestant rub
  • Skin repair ointment for chaffed and cracked skin
  • Electrolyte replacements such as Hydralyte powder or ice blocks
  • Vegetables and fruit, such as bananas (to replace nutrients such as potassium after diarrhoea or vomiting)
  • Soup
  • Foods containing protein
  • Ready-made meals
  • Other food that you can eat in snack-sized portions.


Have a list of items and activities to keep adults and kids entertained, especially those confined to one or two rooms. Ideas include:

  • Extra toys – Perhaps other people could drop off borrowed (disinfected) toys regularly.
  • Books – Local library services offer access to many free ebooks.
  • Music or podcasts
  • Video games
  • Hobbies/crafts
  • Devices to help you hold regular video or phone chats with friends, family or community groups
  • Chargers and batteries for all the devices you use

Having an updated emergency contact list for your household should be part of your pre-planning activities. Many people with chronic conditions like to combine their contact list with their medication list.

You can create a digital document to share with others but you should also have a printed copy somewhere in your house that is easily accessible, such as on your fridge. This can save time looking for digital passwords or phone chargers to access the contacts on your phone. You may also like to keep an extra printed copy in your wallet or at work.

Ensure all members of your household or support people know where to find your list.

Your list should include the name and all contact numbers for as many of the following people as possible:

  • Your regular GP
  • Your specialists
  • Your regular pharmacy
  • Your next of kin
  • Close family and friends
  • Your closest hospital
  • Your insurance company
  • Non-emergency numbers for the police, ambulance and fire services

Other contacts you can include:

  • Local people you can call upon quickly, such as neighbours, your landlord or nearby friends.
  • Workplace colleagues
  • Leaders of community organisations you or your family members are involved in, such as schools clubs

Contacting these additional contacts is important if you have been exposed to COVID-19 as they may need to quickly contact their community members to advise them of their next steps.

Think about your daily responsibilities. If you need to isolate or become very unwell with COVID-19 symptoms, who will look after your children or others in your care? Who will pay your bills or water your garden? What about other adults in your home who do not have COVID-19? Can they stay with someone else while you recover? 

Don’t forget your pets. Who will feed them? Who will walk the dog or change the litter tray? Add all this information to your household emergency plan.

The risk of COVID-19 infection is higher in indoor spaces, and it’s even higher when those indoor spaces are poorly ventilated. Your risk of infection also increases the longer you are in the space.

Plan for as much fresh airflow as possible throughout your home. Ideally, this would include keeping external windows and doors open. You could also use ceiling fans, exhaust fans and portable fans to keep the internal air moving.

Your household plan should include checking the airflow and air quality in your home. You can do this by:

  • Cleaning the filters on your air conditioner. Some air conditioners also include an air purification filter which should be replaced every year or so. Visit the Choice website for information on How to clean your air conditioner
  • Check if your air conditioner is recirculating internal air or intaking external air. You may need to have this setting adjusted by a qualified professional.
  • Get your air conditioner professionally serviced and cleaned.

CO2 monitors

When we breathe, we exhale carbon dioxide (CO2). If we have COVID-19, we also exhale aerosols with contain virus particles. High levels of CO2 indoors can indicate high levels of virus particles. This can depend on the effectiveness of ventilation and the size of the space being measured.

You may choose to use a CO2 meter in your home to help you determine how much CO2 you are inhaling. This can help you assess your risk of airborne virus transmission.

Portable air purifiers

Good quality air purifiers with HEPA filters can help remove airborne virus particles in the room they are in. However, other areas of your home will remain untreated. Also, virus droplets (from exhalations, coughs and sneezes) eventually settle on surfaces so they won’t pass through your air purifier.

Air purifiers should not replace the need for good natural ventilation but they can help in areas with poor ventilation, such as rooms with no external windows or doors.

For more information about air purifiers, see the Choice web page Do air purifiers filter and kill viruses and bacteria?

For more information about safe ventilation, CO2 monitors and air purifiers, see the OzSage media release Beware the air you share – OzSAGE advice on Safe Indoor Air (ventilation) for Australia-September 6th and Safe Indoor Air (Ventilation) Recommendations.

If you live with a chronic health condition, you are probably quite used to pre-planning your days as you know being underprepared or disorganised could negatively affect your health. Preparing for a potential COVID-19 infection is an important extension of what you’re likely already doing.

COVID-19 may cause your chronic condition symptoms to worsen, especially if you are immunosuppressed and/or if your condition is not stable. Therefore, it is a good idea to include the management of your existing conditions in your COVID-19 Action Plan.

Creating a sick day plan

Many people with conditions such as diabetes may already have a sick day plan they have developed with their treating doctor. A sick day plan includes step-by-step written instructions on how to manage your condition when you are unwell. Your sick day plan should include information on when to change your usual treatments, when to contact your treating doctor and how to alter your usual daily activities.

Creating a treatment list

The first thing to do is ensure your list of current medications and other treatments is up to date. Don’t presume your GP has all your medication information. They might, but their list may not include things like the supplements, medical aids and other therapies you use regularly. For example, your list may need to include things like inhalers, colostomy bags, blood glucose testing strips or essential physical therapies you rely on.

If you have a My Health Record, you can log on and check your details are up to date there. You can also use a medication app such as the MedicineWise app. However, like your emergency contact list, it is a good idea to have your treatment information accessible in a hard copy format so others can access it quickly in an emergency. You may like to combine your treatment list with your emergency contact list for convenience.

Updating your prescriptions

Do you have enough repeat prescriptions of your current medications? If not, contact your treating doctor(s) and make an appointment with them or ask them to send you the scripts you need. If possible, you should book a telehealth appointment instead of seeing your treating doctors in person. This reduces the risk of you, your doctors or other people you come into contact with along the way transmitting the virus to each other.

If you need to attend in person and you do not have COVID-19, you can still do so but you will need to follow the appropriate public safety protocols, including wearing your mask correctly and social distancing.

Telehealth appointments can be held either over the phone or via a video call using a smartphone or other electronic device. Medicare covers some or all of the cost of many telehealth services from GPs, specialists, allied health providers and other health practitioners. See the Services Australia website for the latest news on telehealth and other services subsides.

Your doctors can send any prescriptions you need to you using e-scripts, faxing the script to your preferred pharmacist (if your state regulations allow) or by mailing the paper prescription to you.

If you rely on support workers, no doubt, you will already be used to working with them under pandemic conditions. However, how you access such care may suddenly need to change if you, someone in your household or one of your care workers develops COVID-19. Your COVID-19 Action Plan should include contingency plans for such situations.

The National Disability Insurance Agency (NDIA) will make sure that NDIS participants affected by COVID-19 will continue to have their essential needs met. For example, currently, certain participants in some locations who usually have a support worker to help them prepare meals at home or help with grocery shopping can use the funds to pay for meal preparation and delivery support.

The following websites have information you can use for your household emergency plan for COVID-19 if you have a chronic condition or disability:

Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus, COVID-19 vaccination – Long-term effects of COVID-19,

Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, Risk factors for more serious illness,

CHOICE, How to clean your air conditioner,

CHOICE, Do air purifiers filter and kill viruses and bacteria?,

OzSAGE, Beware the air you share – OzSAGE advice on Safe Indoor Air (ventilation) for Australia-September 6th,

OzSAGE, Safe Indoor Air (Ventilation): Recommendations,

Australian Government, Services Australia, Pandemic Leave Disaster Payment,

Australian Government, Services Australia, Crisis Payment,

Australian Government, Services Australia, Top Payments,

Safe Work Australia, Improving ventilation in indoor workplaces: COVID-19,

Safe Work Australia, COVID-19 Information for workplaces,

Fair Work Australia, Coronavirus and Australian workplace laws,

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), Coronavirus (COVID-19): Understanding your privacy obligations to your staff,

healthdirect, Talking to your employer about illness,

Fair Work Ombudsman,

Australian Government Department of Health Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic, Risk factors for more serious illness,

National Diabetes Services Scheme (NDSS), Sick days,

My Health Record,

NPS MedicineWise, MedicineWise app,

Australian Government, Services Australia, The latest news updates and changes,

Australian Government Department of Health, Be COVIDsafe, Fact Sheet – National Health Plan: A Guide for Pharmacists,

Australian Government Department of Health, Be COVIDsafe, Prescriptions via Telehealth – State and Territory Rules,

National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), COVID-19 information for participants,

My Aged Care, Information for older Australians on Coronavirus (COVID-19),

Information on Disability, Education and Awareness Services (IDEAS), COVID-19 blog,

People With Disabilities Australia, COVID-19 Hub,

Collaborating 4 Inclusion, COVID-19 Planning Resource for People with Disability (Australia),

Did you find this COVID-19 self-care guide helpful?
Do you live with a chronic condition?
Assessing symptoms: Getting diagnosed and monitoring
Managing chronic conditions when you have COVID-19

Australian Government health information

If your symptoms become life-threatening, you should call triple zero (000) for an ambulance and tell the ambulance staff that you have COVID-19.

State and territory health departments

Other resources

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