Media event date: 
3 April 2020
Date published: 
2 April 2020
Media type: 
Media release
Audience: 
General public

Aged Care workers are being urged to get their flu vaccination now ahead of the season in a bid to protect themselves and the Senior Australians they care for.

Minister for Aged Care Richard Colbeck said while every flu season is serious, the spread of COVID-19 means it’s critical every worker is vaccinated.

“Our Aged Care workers are doing an exceptional job caring for our most vulnerable Australians in very challenging circumstances,” Minister Colbeck said.

“Senior Australians are the most at risk from serious illness from the flu, which is why it is essential that care workers are vaccinated.

“We need our aged care workforce to be fit and healthy as we face this health emergency.

“This year it is even more important to be vigilant about the flu because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While flu vaccination does not prevent COVID-19, a flu vaccination is critical to protecting the health of Senior Australians, who are more susceptible to contracting influenza.

“I am urging all care workers who work with older Australians, whether through residential facilities or in-home care, to heed this advice and get vaccinated against the flu.

“The more people caring for this vulnerable group who have a vaccination will result in less demand on our health care system.”

Every year, Residential Aged Care Providers are required to a free flu vaccination program to their staff.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC), the key medical decision-making committee for health emergencies, has advised that all residential aged care staff and visiting workers should be vaccinated by 1 May 2020.

State and Territories have issued directions to give effect to these requirements. These directions will be enforced and persons who fail to comply could face penalties including fines for individuals and for bodies corporate. Providers should consult their State or Territory Government. 

Minister Colbeck said he has received the following advice from the Australian Government's Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy:

“The only absolute contraindication to flu vaccination is a history of previous anaphylaxis following vaccination, those who have had Guillain-Barré Syndrome following previous flu vaccination and people on check point inhibitor drugs for cancer treatment."

Prof. Murphy said people who suffer from egg allergies - unless they have anaphylaxis - can be safely immunised.

Minister Colbeck said that we need to do everything we can to reduce the risk of Senior Australians getting other illnesses while COVID-19 remains in our community.

“Vaccinated people of all ages are less likely to get the flu and if they do, are less likely to have a severe case,” Minister Colbeck said.

“It’s critical for our older Australians to reduce their risk of getting other illnesses while COVID-19 remains in our community.

“Together we can work to protect older Australians and our community.”

Flu vaccinations are free for anyone aged 65 and over.

The latest advice released by the National Cabinet is Australians should self-isolate at home to the maximum extent practicable if they are:

  • over 70 years of age;
  • over 65 years of age with a chronic medical condition; 
  • an Indigenous Australian over the age of 50 with a chronic medical condition; and
  • somebody with a compromised immune system.

These groups should limit contact with others as much as possible when they travel outside. 

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