Tens of thousands of aged care residents in Australia will soon receive their first vaccine dose against COVID-19 next week.
The Australian Government is ensuring those who are particularly vulnerable to the worst effects of the coronavirus receive the earliest protection, so priority is being given to residential aged care facility staff and residents.
The vaccination program will begin in every state and territory and will include regional and rural aged care facilities. It is anticipated that the roll out to aged care facilities will take approximately six weeks.
Minister for Health and Aged Care, Greg Hunt, said the vaccine implementation plan for residential aged care aimed to administer vaccines to more than 240 aged care facilities in the first week.
“Vaccination for residents and staff will be made available through residential aged care facilities where they live or work, and it will be administered through an in-reach workforce provider,” Minister Hunt said.
“Healthcare Australia will be providing the vaccination workforce in New South Wales and Queensland, and Aspen Medical will be responsible for the other states and territories.
“The Primary Health Network in each region will be supporting the Commonwealth deliver to each of the aged care facilities in their area and the process is expected to draw from the extensive experience in delivering influenza vaccines to aged care residents.”
Residential aged care facilities will be grouped, up to a maximum of eight facilities within a 30 kilometre radius to ensure efficient delivery of the vaccine.
Vaccination for home and community aged care recipients and staff will occur in the community, and these people will receive information relevant to their situation shortly.
It’s anticipated that people aged over 70 years who do not reside in residential aged care facilities, along with in-home and community aged care staff, will be able to go to specified central locations or medical facilities to receive their COVID 19 vaccination, as the time comes for their vaccination.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services, Richard Colbeck, said the Australian Government would be responsible for leading the implementation of the COVID-19 vaccination program in the aged care sector.
“We are consulting with relevant peak bodies and state and territory governments, but the responsibilities are clearly delineated so all parties understand their role in this critical and complex program,” Minister Colbeck said.
“The New South Wales, Victorian and the South Australian governments will maintain responsibility for vaccinating residents and staff of the public sector residential aged care and disability care facilities in their state.
“It is vital residents and families understand what information is available to them as the vaccine strategy is rolled out. I would encourage residents and family members to ask if they need help understanding the vaccine program and how it will affect them.
“Importantly, the vaccine providers will be providing information about the vaccine and seeking consent from aged care residents or their substitute decision maker, to ensure they understand the risks and benefits of receiving the vaccine.”
Everyone responsible for providing the vaccine in aged care settings will be required to have completed the relevant training, including on the use of multi-dose vials, cold storage and infection control.
In the coming weeks, the vaccination program will reach more than 2,600 residential aged care facilities, more than 183,000 residents and 339,000 staff.
Families seeking additional information and support can visit the Australian Government website.