Residential aged care service providers
Providers play a key role in ensuring their residents and workers can access COVID-19 vaccinations safely and easily.
COVID-19 Winter doses for residents and eligible workers
The expert Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommends an additional COVID-19 vaccine dose for residents in aged care facilities.
ATAGI recommends residents receive their COVID-19 winter dose from four months after their initial booster dose, or from 3 months after a confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, if infection occurred since the person’s first COVID-19 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.
ATAGI also recommends an additional booster (Winter) dose of a COVID-19 vaccine for the following vulnerable groups, which may include some residential aged care workers:
- People aged 65 years or older
- People who are severely immunocompromised
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older
- People aged 16 -64 years:
- who have a medical condition that increases the risk of severe COVID-19 illness
- living with a disability with significant or complex health needs or multiple comorbidities which increase risk of poor outcome from COVID-19.
Schedule your COVID-19 winter dose clinic now
COVID-19 winter vaccine doses are available for residents in aged care and other defined groups considered by ATAGI at most risk from severe illness from COVID-19.
Residential aged care facilities can arrange on-site COVID-19 winter dose vaccinations for residents and eligible workers through the following options:
- Primary care providers are the key channel for delivery of the COVID-19 Winter vaccine program in residential aged care as they:
- offer greater flexibility in the delivery of vaccines as residents become eligible (from four months after an initial booster dose)
- support co-administration of COVID-19 Winter doses and influenza vaccination.
- Aged care providers previously approved by the Commonwealth to conduct their self-run on-site COVID-19 vaccination clinics can opt to run their own COVID-19 Winter dose clinics.
- Commonwealth vaccination in-reach clinics are available to facilities unable to secure a primary care provider or conduct a self-run on-site vaccination clinic.
- Providers can request an in-reach Commonwealth COVID-19 winter dose vaccination clinic by completing an online registration form
- Facilities are encouraged to register as soon as possible if this is your required option.
All facilities that submit an online form to request a Commonwealth in-reach Winter dose clinic are allocated to a Commonwealth vaccination provider to make contact and schedule a clinic date.
In addition, facilities will be assigned to a Commonwealth vaccination provider approximately two weeks prior to 70 per cent of residents being eligible for their Winter dose where the facility:
- has not requested a Commonwealth in-reach clinic via the online form
- has not advised their Primary Health Network of their preferred channel for Winter dose clinics.
The Commonwealth vaccination provider will contact the facility to confirm if the facility requires a Commonwealth in-reach clinic or has made alternate arrangements i.e. a primary care provider or a self-run on-site vaccination clinic.
If a Commonwealth vaccination in-reach clinic is the only viable option for a facility’s Winter dose clinic, the online form should be completed now. The facility does not need to wait until they are contacted by their allocated Commonwealth vaccination provider. This will assist in the scheduling of Commonwealth vaccination in-reach clinics.
Facilities cannot choose which Commonwealth vaccine provider they will be allocated, nor can Commonwealth vaccine providers choose the facilities they will service.
Providers should ensure that any residents or workers requiring a first, second or booster dose are offered a vaccination at the time of your scheduled COVID-19 winter dose vaccinations.
All providers are requested to provide to all residents and their families a fact sheet on COVID-19 winter doses, available in 20 languages, explaining the benefits of a COVID-19 winter vaccine and why it has been recommended for people living in residential aged care.
Engage with your Primary Health Network
It is very important that you advise your Primary Health Network on your preferred channel for delivering COVID-19 Winter doses at your facility.
Primary Health Networks are reporting to the department the preferred vaccination channel, and clinic dates as confirmed, for all residential aged care facilities in their Network area.
Facilities are encouraged to:
- Engage with your Primary Health Network for assistance in securing a primary care provider if you do not have an existing GP or pharmacist available
- Advise your Primary Health Network of their preferred vaccination channel and clinic dates.
- Advise your Primary Health Network if you have submitted an online form to request a Commonwealth in-reach Winter dose clinic.
- Advise your Primary Health Network if your clinic will be delivered by a residential aged care provider approved by the Commonwealth to administer COVID-19 vaccines.
Co-administration of COVID-19 winter dose and annual flu vaccination
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, aged care providers are 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
- ensure residents understand it is their choice on whether they wish to receive both vaccines at the same time.
Commonwealth in-reach clinics will only deliver COVID-19 vaccines.
Facilities will be required to make separate arrangements for the administration of flu vaccines.
If a facility has a contracted commercial provider to administer their annual flu vaccinations, and this provider is the same Commonwealth vaccine provider allocated to your facility for COVID-19 winter dose clinics:
- the vaccine provider will need to agree to administer both vaccine programs at the same time
- facilities will be required to organise the flu vaccination component directly with that provider.
How to support resident and worker vaccination
As a residential aged care service provider, you have an important role in ensuring your residents and workers are protected against COVID-19.
Each facility must follow the New Resident Entrance Protocol on COVID-19 vaccination to protect new and existing residents.
Every resident in aged care facilities was offered a COVID-19 vaccination and booster dose through the Australian Government's aged care vaccine rollout.
Residents who are not yet vaccinated should be supported to access a COVID-19 vaccine as quickly and safely as possible. Residents can receive a booster dose, or other required doses, at your facility’s return COVID-19 booster clinic. Alternatively, residents can receive a vaccination, including a booster dose, by a visiting GP to your facility. Talk to your Primary Health Network if you require assistance.
You are encouraged to print and display poster in your facilities shared spaces to promote COVID-19 vaccinations, including Winter doses.
Vaccination against COVID-19 is mandatory for residential aged care workers. Booster doses are recommended by the AHPPC and in some states and territories is now mandatory for workers.
Priority access to COVID-19 vaccination for residential aged care workers is available at:
- Follow up booster clinics at facilities: this includes self-vaccination booster clinics, primary care provider clinics and Commonwealth return booster clinics.
- Primary care clinics: This includes general practices, pharmacies, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Services.
- State and territory vaccination clinics
Workers can access a booster dose at any of the above channels when they are eligible – at least 3 months after they received a second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
A fact sheet on how to get vaccinated is available for you to share with your workforce. This fact sheet includes information on booster and winter doses.
You are encouraged to print and display posters in your facility in staff areas to promote the importance of being up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations, including booster doses.
Providers should ensure all workers, including contractors and students on placement, know:
- they are eligible to receive the Comirnaty (Pfizer) or Spikevax (Moderna) vaccine regardless of age. Workers can also choose to receive the Vaxzevria (AstraZeneca) vaccine
- how and where they can access a priority vaccination
- they can call the dedicated COVID-19 Vaccine Helpline on 1800 020 080 (select option 4) for any questions about vaccination and for help to book a vaccination appointment
- financial support may be available to them if they need to go offsite for a COVID-19 vaccination or if they feel unwell afterwards.
Preparing for your COVID-19 vaccination clinic
Residential aged care facilities are responsible for:
- preparing your facility and residents for vaccination clinics
- obtaining and recording residents' consent
- monitoring and reporting adverse side effects
- providing information to your residents and workers.
A fact sheet is available for you to share with your residents and their families on COVID-19 winter dose recommendations.
The following resources are available to help you plan and prepare for COVID-19 vaccination clinics at your facility.
- COVID-19 winter dose Information Kit for residential aged care providers
- Booster vaccination Information kit for residential aged care providers
- Fact sheet for residents and families on the COVID-19 booster program
- Fact sheet for workers on the COVID-19 booster program
- Roles and responsibilities in residential aged care for clinics delivered by Commonwealth vaccine providers
- Vaccine dose policy – this policy provides guidance on administering vaccines in aged care facilities. It includes information about primary, booster and Winter dose eligibility, managing excess doses and make up doses.
- Planning checklist for vaccination day – a checklist for residential aged care facilities to prepare for the booster vaccination clinic
- Clinical governance requirements – sets out the roles and responsibilities of the residential aged care facility and the vaccine workforce, in planning and preparing for the Commonwealth in-reach clinic, on the day of the clinic, and after the clinic
- Consent in the residential aged care context – sets out considerations for consent to primary course and booster doses in the residential aged care context
- Consent process flow chart – sets out consent pathways and assessment of residents’ clinical suitability for a primary course or booster vaccination, ahead of time and on the day
- Site readiness checklist – a checklist for the physical clinic set up
- What to expect on vaccination day – information for residents, families and carers about what to expect in the lead up to, and on vaccination day.
How to obtain and record resident consent
As with all other vaccines, informed consent is required for each COVID-19 vaccine dose, including booster and winter doses. Residential aged care providers are responsible for this process which must be completed ahead of the vaccination day.
Guidance on consent in the residential aged care context can assist with this process.
How does my facility capture consent?
There are 2 ways to capture resident consent:
- written consent – you can use the Australian Government’s written consent form or use your own form. If you use your own consent form, you must capture the necessary information to show that the resident consents to a COVID-19 vaccine.
- verbal consent – if you receive verbal consent, you must record it in a resident’s care notes, following usual practices.
Does my facility need to receive consent prior to the first, second, booster or winter dose?
You need to obtain the resident's consent to receive a primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine. For most people a primary course is 2 doses. You can obtain consent for both doses at the same time, prior to the person receiving their first dose.
You are also required to support residents to consent seperately to receiving a booster dose and a winter dose and to making the consent forms available to the vaccine provider on the day of clinic.
You must keep a record of the resident's consent. This record is used to confirm consent prior to vaccination.
If you are obtaining consent verbally, you must confirm if consent is being provided for both doses of the same vaccine for a primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine, for a booster dose or for a winter dose. Record this through your usual practices.
Our consent form provides that consent is for a primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine (2 doses of the same vaccine), a third dose for people who are severely immunocompromised, an initial booster dose or a winter dose.
Residential aged care providers are responsible for keeping consent records for all residents.
Vaccine providers may request a copy of residents' consent records from the residential aged care facility. You can provide this on request, however, must retain the original consent records on site.
For more information about valid consent, refer to the Australian Immunisation Handbook: Preparing for vaccination – Valid consent.
Some jurisdictions have specific requirements relevant to guardians (or substitute decision-makers) consenting on behalf of another person. Refer to relevant state and territory laws for more information.
Provide information to your residents
You need to provide residents and/or their representatives with detailed and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccination. You should give the following information before vaccination day (translated information available):
- Advice on the COVID-19 Winter Dose
- COVID-19 booster vaccine advice
- What to expect on vaccination day
- Pfizer vaccine and rare side effects
- Moderna vaccine and rare side effects
- Consent form.
These information sheets are available in other languages.
How do I monitor and report adverse events?
Residential aged care facilities must monitor residents for any side effects after vaccination. These are usually mild and go away within 2 days. They include:
- pain or swelling at the injection site
- muscle pain
- joint pain.
If residents experience pain at the injection site or fever, headaches or body aches after vaccination, they can take paracetamol or ibuprofen. These help to reduce the above symptoms (they do not need to take paracetamol or ibuprofen before vaccination). If there is swelling at the injection site, they can use a cold compress.
Reporting adverse events
Health professionals are encouraged to report all serious reactions, known as adverse events, following immunisation (AEFI) – particularly if they are unexpected or significant.
If a resident has an immediate serious reaction or is unwell in the days after a vaccination, you can report it to either:
- your state or territory health unit
- Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
Residential aged care facilities should also report serious reactions and events to the Vaccine Operations Centre on 1800 318 208 or COVID19VaccineOperationsCentre [at] Health.gov.au.
Vaccine workforce provider in-reach teams are responsible for monitoring residents and reporting serious reactions for the first 15 minutes post-vaccination. After that initial period, residential aged care facilities are responsible for monitoring and reporting any serious reactions.
See the monitoring and reporting adverse events fact sheet for more information.
Mandatory vaccination for workers
All states and territories have mandated boosters for residential aged care workers. Stay up to date with your relevant public health orders.
COVID-19 winter doses are voluntary and only recommended for the following groups considered by ATAGI to be at most risk of severe illness from COVID-19 and who received their initial booster dose 4 months ago:
- people who 65 years or older
- a resident of an aged care or disability care facility
- people who are severely immunocompromised
- Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people aged 50 years and older.
Providers and facility management have a critical role in:
- ensuring workers are vaccinated in accordance with state and territory public health orders, including booster doses
- understanding who must be vaccinated under state and territory public health orders and directions, and what limited exemptions may apply
- ensuring workers who may be considered at risk to be aware of the benefits and supported to access a Winter dose when eligible
- record keeping and reporting on workforce and resident COVID-19 vaccination.
All residential aged care providers must report each Tuesday on the COVID-19 vaccination status, including booster doses, of residents and workers via the aged care provider portal.
Learn more about record keeping and reporting requirements.
We are undertaking monitoring and compliance work with providers and individual facilities, in line with state and territory public health orders.
Non-compliant facilities or providers may be referred to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission or relevant state authority for action. This could result in the application of sanctions or penalties as detailed in the state and territory public health orders.
Refer to the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care page for detailed information, including the national framework and state and territory public health orders.