The residential aged care sector now has one of the highest vaccination rates of any workforce anywhere in the world.
This is a very positive result and assures residents and their families that those who care for them are protecting those around them from the risk of serious disease, hospitalisation and death from COVID‑19.
Providers and workers encouraged to meet timeframe for required second dose vaccinations
All providers and workers are encouraged to review their state or territory public health order to understand when workers are required to have had their second dose of a COVID‑19 vaccine.
All workers are strongly encouraged to access a second dose. It will fully protect them and provide a stronger layer of protection around the residents in their care and the wider community.
International data suggests that protection against severe COVID‑19 disease is maintained from two doses, including from both hospitalisation and intensive care unit admissions.
This is further supported by Australian data during the current Delta outbreak showing severe COVID‑19 is uncommon following full vaccination.
Supporting ongoing vaccination of residents
Providers are reminded to support any unvaccinated residents or those requiring a second dose to receive a COVID‑19 vaccination as a priority.
This is especially important in areas with ongoing outbreaks such as NSW, VIC and the ACT. Vaccination remains the most effective protection against serious illness, hospitalisation or death.
All residents in aged care are prioritised to receive the Comirnaty (Pfizer) COVID-19 vaccine. If you require assistance to organise vaccination for residents please contact your local PHN. New residents should be encouraged to receive their vaccine before entering residential aged care.
Monitoring and compliance work underway
The Department is undertaking monitoring and compliance work with providers and individual facilities, in line with the state and territory public health orders.
Any facilities that do not have a 100% vaccination rate and who do not demonstrate that sufficient action is being taken to reach full compliance will be referred to Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and/or State authorities. This may result in the imposition of penalties as applicable under public health orders.
What to expect
We are engaging directly with any providers and individual facilities showing a worker vaccination rate of less than 100% to discuss compliance. Using the vaccination and exemption data as reported on My Aged Care, we are working to clarify if there are any unvaccinated workers and where exemptions may apply.
The Department is contacting facilities directly to:
- ensure continuity of resident care standards as a priority
- understand the reasons for non-medical exemptions or unvaccinated workers
- provide advice on the availability and access to a vaccine for unvaccinated workers
- provide advice on exemption requirements for the relevant state or territory public health order
- ensure facilities know how to report exemptions correctly in the My Aged Care provider portal.
Providers have clear obligations under the public health orders to have the necessary processes in place with respect to accurate reporting and record keeping on workforce vaccination.
What you need to do
Facilities must advise the Department of their strategy to address non-medical exemptions and ensure all current workers not yet vaccinated receive a minimum first dose COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible.
Your strategy should consider overall vaccination rates at your facility, roles undertaken by unvaccinated workers, local transmission risk and other measures to prepare and manage the risk of COVID‑19.
If strategies are not implemented to adequately minimise the risk of COVID-19 infection, including through workforce vaccination, the Department may refer the facility or provider to the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and/ 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.
State and Territory aged care COVID‑19 information
As the COVID-19 situation can change rapidly, all in home and community aged care providers are reminded to stay up to date on visitor restrictions, PPE requirements and other measures relating to COVID‑19 in aged care, from their relevant state or territory website below: