Residential aged care residents
Vaccination is the most effective protection against COVID-19. Protecting the people who live and work in residential aged care is a priority.
COVID-19 winter dose recommended for residents in aged care
COVID-19 vaccination is voluntary but strongly encouraged for residents in aged care facilities. It remains the most effective protection against severe illness, hospitalisation and death from COVID-19.
The Australian Government’s COVID-19 vaccine booster program completed COVID-19 booster clinics in residential aged care facilities in February 2022.
As some residents and workers were unable to receive their booster on the day of the booster clinic for a variety of reasons, follow-up booster clinics were offered to facilities.
The expert Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose for residents in aged care facilities before winter.
ATAGI recommends residents receive their COVID-19 winter dose from four months after their initial booster dose.
The recommended COVID-19 winter vaccine dose is to bolster residents’ protection from severe illness, hospitalisation or death from COVID-19 over the winter season.
The fact sheet on the COVID-19 winter dose provides information for residents, their families and friends. This fact sheet is available in 20 languages.
If you have any concerns, please talk to your doctor or other health professional about the benefits and risks of vaccination .
How can I get my recommended COVID-19 vaccinations?
Your facility is responsible for ensuring you are offered the opportunity to be up to date with your COVID-19 vaccination.
Your facility will now be planning on-site COVID-19 winter vaccination for residents and starting a discussion with you on the benefits of the recommended winter dose and seeking your consent to be vaccinated.
You are eligible to receive a COVID-19 winter dose from four months after you received your initial booster dose.
The COVID-19 winter dose clinics will be delivered by:
- visiting primary care providers, such as a general practitioner or pharmacist
- an on-site vaccination clinic, or
- a Commonwealth in-reach clinic.
Your facility staff will discuss with you and your substitute decision maker, whether you consent to be vaccinated and they can assist you to complete the consent form or record your verbal consent. This needs to occur prior to the date of your vaccination.
If you are yet to receive a first, second or initial booster dose, you can ask your facility to organise your vaccination at the same time as the COVID-19 winter dose clinic.
You do not need to wait for a scheduled clinic. Your facility can make arrangements at any time for you to get vaccinated with the dose you require by a visiting GP to your facility as soon as you are eligible within the ATAGI recommended intervals.
COVID-19 doses and your annual flu vaccination
As occurs in the winter months, it is anticipated this year Australia will see an increase in respiratory viruses such as influenza, as well as in COVID-19 cases.
ATAGI advises that COVID-19 winter doses can be administered at the same time as the annual flu vaccination.
Co-administration of COVID-19 winter doses and influenza vaccines for residents is both clinically safe and administratively efficient.
In planning your winter vaccine programs, your facility is encouraged to:
- identify and optimise opportunities for co-administration of COVID-19 winter doses and flu vaccines where possible.
- not delay the administering of flu vaccines to residents if co-administration is not possible or is likely to delay flu vaccination.
It is your choice as to whether you consent to receive both vaccines at the same time.
The booster dose of the COVID vaccination reinvigorates each and everyone.
Just means I'm free, I'm up to date with all of them.
If there's another one to come, well, I'll still be in line.
It's the one thing that I can do to keep you safe.
I'll be happy to go out now and not worry about getting it.
I feel it's important to receive the booster vaccine to protect the residents, and the staff were all leading the charge to be vaccinated as well.
Which vaccine can I get?
There are currently 4 safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available in Australia, Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca), Comirnaty (Pfizer), Spikevax (Moderna) and Nuvaxovid (Novavax) vaccines. All vaccines are highly effective at preventing death and severe illness among people who contract COVID-19.
All residents living in an aged care facility are prioritised to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, including for all doses.
Residents can request to receive the Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca), Spikevax (Moderna) or Nuvaxovid (Novavax) vaccine.
The Comirnaty (Pfizer) and Spikevax (Moderna) are the only vaccines currently approved for booster and winter doses in Australia.
Find out which vaccine you can receive on the Who can get vaccinated page
All aged care residents must provide valid consent before receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Aged care facilities are responsible for obtaining that consent:
- Prior to the first dose, residents are asked to provide consent for both a first and second dose of a primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine. For most people this is 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
- For residents who are assessed by a GP as being severely immunocompromised, a third dose may be recommended. Residents will be asked to provide consent for a third dose if this is recommended. A third dose is different to a booster dose.
- Prior to a booster dose, residents are asked to provide consent to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
- Prior to a winter dose, residents are asked to provide consent to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
There are two ways your facility can capture resident consent:
- written consent – using the Australian Government’s written consent form or using the facility’s own consent form.
- verbal consent – verbal consent must be recorded by the facility in a resident’s care notes, following usual practices.
Aged care providers keep a record of the resident’s consent for all doses to share with those who give the vaccine for recording on the Australian Immunisation Register.
Consent by a guardian or substitute decision-maker
Some jurisdictions have specific requirements relevant to guardians (or substitute decision-makers) consenting on behalf of another person.
If consenting to COVID-19 vaccination on behalf of an aged care recipient, please refer to the enduring guardianship legislation in your state or territory.
Getting vaccinated before entering a facility
Senior Australians planning to enter an aged care facility are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to their move.
To monitor the COVID-19 vaccination status of new residents, all residential aged care facilities will follow the COVID-19 New Residence Entrance Protocol.
Is evidence of COVID-19 vaccination required?
Your aged care facility will discuss with you how they will record your COVID-19 vaccination status, and you are encouraged to provide evidence of your vaccination status.
You can provide:
- a vaccination certificate or other evidence from a vaccine provider, or
- an immunisation history statement (this can be accessed via Medicare online or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app.)
Residents can also provide a signed declaration, a statement of vaccination history from the Australian Immunisation Register, or a record from a health practitioner.
Why does my facility need to know if I am vaccinated?
Your residential aged care service must now keep records and report on the number of residents and workers who have received a COVID-19 vaccination, including booster doses. Your service will also be required to keep a record of the number of residents who have received a COVID-19 winter dose.
This will help your facility to prepare, plan and respond to a COVID-19 outbreak. It will be important to know how many residents and workers have been vaccinated so that protective measures can be put in place for those who have not been vaccinated.
The information your aged care facility will collect is very similar to the way they currently record information on influenza vaccination.
Resources for residents
The following resources can assist in deciding about COVID-19 vaccination:
- Information for residents on COVID-19 winter doses
- Information for residents on COVID-19 booster doses
- Information for residents on COVID-19 vaccination
- Decision guide to help people who are frail or very old
- Who can get vaccinated
- Preparing for COVID-19 vaccination
- Consent form.
These information sheets are available in several languages.