Date published: 
1 June 2021
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

KARL STEFANOVIC:             

Well, no jab, no job. That's the message to Victorian aged-care workers after it was revealed staff and residents are still not vaccinated. And on the show earlier, we heard from a woman who lost her elderly mother to COVID in a Melbourne care home who fears it is happening again.

                                               [Excerpt]

SIAN PRIOR:                         

I alternate between wanting to cry and feeling white hot rage against the- well, the Federal Government, Ally. They're the ones who had responsibility for making sure aged-care residents and workers were fully vaccinated in 2021. Why hasn't that happened? It's mind bogglingly neglectful. How can this be happening when we've had a vaccine available for six months? Can't they count?

                                               [End of excerpt]

ALLISON LANGDON:           

Very strong words there from Sian Prior. And for more on this, we're joined by Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer Professor Alison McMillan in Canberra. Good morning. Does she have a fair point? What's your reaction to that?

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

Good morning. Look, I understand Sian's concerns and I do express my sympathies for her loss. I think that we do- we know that every aged-care facility in Victoria has had a visit on its first doses and we will see the second doses complete in the next three weeks. We are doing everything we can to make sure that every aged-care worker who wants to get vaccinated can access that vaccine through a whole range of places, GPs, pop up clinics, vaccinated in the facility while they're at work.

So, we are really putting an enormous effort into getting the entire workforce and residents vaccinated. But, Ally, I think it's important that I remind people even when you are vaccinated, you can still catch COVID and we're learning about how much of that ability you have to transmit, the vaccines definitely protect you from severe disease and death. But as I say, you can still catch COVID, which is the unfortunate part of any virus in this- across the country and the world.

KARL STEFANOVIC:             

I think it's been a little bit disturbing for most this morning to staff were allowed to go back and work at multiple facilities when we don't even know how many staff have really been vaccinated. Do you know how many staff have been vaccinated?

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

I know how many staff have been vaccinated across the country. That's about 70,000 vaccines have been administered to aged-care workers. As to the Victorian, I don't have those figures. I have- I think, Karl, we need to not- remember not to blame these staff for this. These are vital, important members of community. Our staff, our aged-care workers are critically important. Please, let's remember this is the virus that exploits every opportunity it can and this is not the fault of these workers.

KARL STEFANOVIC:             

No. I understand.

ALLISON LANGDON:           

I don't think anyone is blaming the workers. I think if anything, who's copping the blame here is the Federal Government and how the vaccine rollout has taken place.

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

Well, Ally, we are doing everything we can, as I said, to make sure that staff get access to the vaccine. I heard, as you have this morning, reports that Victoria will mandate the vaccine for aged-care workers. That's something that we will consider this week again at the AHPPC and I understand it will be discussed at National Cabinet. Government response will be ultimately to the expert advice around whether that's a proportionate response in this new outbreak in Victoria.

KARL STEFANOVIC:              So, you mentioned before that you know how many staff have been vaccinated across Australia but not Victoria. Why not Victoria?

ALISON MCMILLAN:            

I don't have those figures with me, Karl. I know the national figures. I'm sure that we could provide them later. But we are- we have 50 roving teams of vaccinators out there making sure that if anyone who chose not to before to get the vaccine has chosen now to do so, they can get it today and then, of course, they will get subsequent doses in the following weeks.

So, we are doing everything we can and concentrating on maximising that. We will- we are also asking staff, when they get their flu vaccination, to confirm with us whether or not they have their COVID vaccination.

KARL STEFANOVIC:             

Look, there's a lot of questions being raised this morning. There's a lot of pressure on the system. We appreciate your time this morning as always, Alison. Thank you.

ALLISON LANGDON:           

Thanks, Professor.

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