Date published: 
30 March 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

LEON COMPTON:

I want to play you now a little bit of Lucy O'Flaherty. She's the CEO of Glenview, a huge aged care facility in southern Tasmania. She was on the radio yesterday talking with us about her frustration that none of her staff or her residents have received a vaccine yet for COVID-19. And importantly, they have no timeline for receiving a vaccine either.

[Excerpt]

LUCY O'FLAHERTY:       

The reality is that the longer people go without being vaccinated, the higher the risks are for them. My concern at the moment is largely around we're heading into the flu shot season and we can't organise vaccinations for residents or staff until we've got a clarity on the date that us, the residents, will be vaccinated. Because you've got that 14-day window that you can't have your COVID vaccination around.

[End of Excerpt]

LEON COMPTON:

That was Lucy O'Flaherty from Glenview in Tasmania's South, talking with us yesterday morning. Alison McMillan is The Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer at the Federal Department of Health. Alison McMillan, good morning to you.

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Good morning, Leon.

LEON COMPTON:

And thank you for talking with us. Is it acceptable that a major aged care facility in southern Tasmania has no timeline yet for their staff or their residents to be vaccinated against COVID-19?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Thanks Leon. I think that- what I can say, that we have got 17 aged care facilities scheduled in the next two weeks. I know that- and I can hear that- that interview from yesterday that Glenview hasn't yet heard when it will be scheduled. But we are rolling out this program over a period of weeks and I'm sure Glenview will get to hear soon, when, like other aged care facilities in southern Tasmania, it will get its turn. But we are- this is a rollout. We can't get to everyone immediately, but we're trying to get to them as quickly as we can.

LEON COMPTON:

But it's not about just when you can get to them. It's about letting them know when that is expected. And why haven't they been told yet when it's expected that they can prepare for it so they know how that might intersect with, for example, flu season?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Well, we will tell them as soon as we can confirm it. We don't want to give them a date and then it not been confirmed. We do know that more than- well, over 4000 aged care residents and disability residents have so far been vaccinated in Tasmania. And the soonest we can give them a date, we will do that. We're working with the Public Health Network in coordinating the rollout to Tasmanian aged care and disability facilities.

LEON COMPTON:

Is there an issue at the moment with the rollout from the Federal Government side of things in Tasmania?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

No. I think one of the really encouraging things, Leon, is to hear how well prepared that facility is. I understand it's already got all of its consent forms done and that there's a real appetite to get this vaccine out. We just are working hard to meet everyone's expectations that we'll get that vaccine to them just as soon as we can. But we need to do it safely and effectively. And it was always a program of rollout, as I've said, with a staged- And we will hope to get to Glenview as quickly as we can.

LEON COMPTON:

Do you have a timeline for that happening, then?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

No, I don't. I know that they're not in the next couple of weeks because those next are scheduled, and we're working to schedule further vaccine rollouts in the facilities after that.

LEON COMPTON:

Are you having difficulty getting access to the level of vaccine that you need for the rollout in Tasmania, Alison?

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

No. No evidence suggests it's an issue with the access to vaccine. It's just we can't simply get to everyone at the same time because there's limitations on that- not on limitations of the vaccine, but we've got resources and things that need to make sure that they go through all of those safety processes we've built into the system so that this is a very safe and effective rollout.

LEON COMPTON:

It just seems like a little discordant that a 71-year-old can call up and arrange a booking for a vaccine at the moment, but perhaps a more vulnerable cohort, those in residential aged care and those that work there, are still being told that they need to wait beyond two weeks to even get on board that process.

ALISON MCMILLAN:      

Leon, we were always very clear that these were- it was a staged rollout. 1B would commence before 1A had finished. They are different vaccines and the program is different. With the aged care, we're doing it in-reach, where teams of nurses, doctors, pharmacists, are going to that facility. So you can imagine that's quite a significant logistics undertaking. But again, we will get to them as quickly as we can as we step through all of the facilities in Tasmania.

LEON COMPTON:

Appreciate you talking with us this morning.

ALISON MCMILLAN:      
Thanks, Leon.

LEON COMPTON:

Alison McMillan, Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer at the Federal Department of Health, responding to Lucy O'Flaherty yesterday. Not in the next two weeks, sometime after that, as the rollout in aged care facilities and for aged care workers continues.

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