COVID-19 Vaccination to become mandatory for Residential aged care workers
On Monday, National Cabinet agreed that the COVID-19 vaccination of residential aged care workers will become mandatory by mid-September 2021.
Residential aged care workers must have received at least the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by this time.
The requirement will be a condition of working in an aged care facility through shared state, territory and Commonwealth authorities and compliance measures.
The mandatory COVID-19 vaccination of residential aged care workers will be introduced in partnership with state and territories using existing mechanisms.
The Commonwealth will oversee compliance of the mandatory requirement through its reporting and compliances processes with all residential aged care providers.
The strong advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) to all aged care workers since January 2021 has been to get vaccinated.
Just over a third of residential aged care workers are reported to have received a COVID-19 vaccination.
This is the third time AHPPC has considered this matter. They will continue to look at the issue to ensure there are not unintended consequences as an outcome of this decision.
All aged care workers are strongly encouraged to get fully vaccinated as soon as possible.
Residential aged care workers will be supported to be vaccinated through an $11 million program to enable them to attend off-site vaccination centres and general practices.
Under the Residential Aged Care COVID-19 Employee Vaccination Support Grant, residential aged care facilities will be paid for the following three categories of eligible expenditure:
- Casual staff going off-site for vaccination – a flat fee of $80 payable per staff member, per dose;
- Paid leave for casual staff who become unwell after vaccination and do not have other leave entitlements – one day’s paid leave (at a rate of $185); and
- Facilitation of off-site vaccination for employees – up to $500 per site in flexible vaccination facilitation costs per site, which may be used for activities like: transport services, arranging groups of staff to be vaccinated and or any other reasonable expenses that support staff to get vaccinated.
Vaccination is the greatest protection against COVID-19. Ensuring all aged care workers are vaccinated will further protect the residents in their care.
The Commonwealth will continue to work closely with the aged care sector to ensure support and access to COVID-19 vaccination for all workers in residential aged care.
Throughout the aged care roll out, workers have been able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination at in-reach clinics where doses are available following vaccination of residents.
In addition, workers have been and continue to be able to get vaccinated at state and territory vaccination clinics, Commonwealth vaccination clinics, general practices and on-site vaccination clinics.
There has been a very positive response from aged care providers to the Request for Tender to vaccinate their own workers. The RFT is open until 30 July 2021 and aged care providers are encouraged to participate.
Aged care providers can also consult with their Primary Health Network and GPs to organise on-site vaccination clinics for workers.
We strongly encourage you to consider self‑vaccination on-site by facilities under this program.
Going forward, residential aged care workers will be offered the Pfizer vaccine through all in reach and on site clinics.
Aged care workers accessing a COVID-19 vaccination through off-site clinics will also be offered Pfizer once it is available – this includes through GPs and Commonwealth vaccination clinics. In greater Sydney, Pfizer vaccines are already available through dedicated Pfizer aged care hubs located in Blacktown, Campbelltown and Macquarie Park.
The Commonwealth will also encourage state and territory clinics to offer Pfizer, noting in the immediate term, workers aged 60 and over may be offered AstraZeneca and will continue to have access to AstraZeneca if they wish through either GPs, Commonwealth clinics or state clinics.
In New South Wales and Victoria, workers can access a COVID-19 vaccination through the Commonwealth’s roving clinics. These clinics are returning to aged care facilities, which have already received in-reach clinics, to offer a Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination to residents and workers not yet vaccinated in 18 Local Government Areas in Greater Sydney and all Tier 1 locations in Victoria, as defined by Victorian health authorities.
We also remind you of the requirement to report vaccination rates and thank those who are now providing this information.
Aged care workers perform a critical frontline role in caring for senior Australians living in residential aged care.
The Commonwealth values the commitment and dedication shown by the aged care workforce, particularly during the challenges we face in the pandemic.
Aged care workers have done an excellent job in protecting residents by being vaccinated against influenza.
The additional protection of being vaccinated against COVID-19, which presents a far greater risk to older Australians, enables the aged care workforce to continue to protect the residents in their care.
Further information on the above will shortly be available online.