Protecting Older Australians: COVID-19 Update 7 September 2021

In this issue: Less than two weeks until COVID-19 vaccination becomes mandatory for workers in residential aged care, Proof of vaccination from workers, Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination webinars now online, NSW Health – Updated advice, and more.

Date published:
Audience:
Health sector

Thank you for continuing to stay up to date with the latest information via this newsletter.

Please share this newsletter with your colleagues and workforce, particularly your communications teams and encourage them to subscribe for future updates. You can view past editions of the Protecting Older Australians Newsletter.

Anyone living in an aged care facility, their family or representative who needs support should contact the Older Person’s Advocacy Network on 1800 700 600.

Less than two weeks until COVID-19 vaccination becomes mandatory for workers in residential aged care

Residential aged care workers across Australia have less than two weeks to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before it becomes a mandatory requirement.

As at 7 September, 85% of workers are reported as having received their first dose vaccine. All providers are strongly encouraged to actively engage with workers who are not yet vaccinated, or who have not yet provided evidence of their vaccination, now.

Residential aged care providers are strongly requested to keep your data updated on a daily basis via My Aged Care as the 17 September deadline for mandatory vaccination approaches.

The data available publicly on the interactive map is as updated by providers and the map is updated by 5pm each weekday.

Proof of exemption reporting starts today

From Tuesday 7 September 2001, residential aged care providers must report on the number of workers with authorised exemptions to a COVID-19 vaccine as part of your weekly reporting via My Aged Care. This is in addition to the current reporting of workforce COVID-19 vaccinations.

A fact sheet has been provided to all providers and residential aged care facilities which provides guidance for reporting on workforce COVID-19 vaccinations and exemptions via My Aged Care. The fact sheet will shortly be available on the Department’s website.

From 17 September onwards, the information reported on workforce COVID-19 vaccinations and exemptions will be used to assess compliance with mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements as outlined in the relevant public health orders in the relevant state or territory.

Proof of vaccination from workers

From 17 September 2021, it is a condition of employment for residential aged care workers to have received at least a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

This is required under your state or territory public health order on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care.

You must provide evidence of your COVID-19 vaccination status to your employer before 17 September 2021. Your employer should also keep a record of your vaccination status, in line with the direction set out in the relevant state or territory public health order.

What evidence can you provide?
There are two options for you to provide evidence of COVID-19 vaccination in Australia:

  1. A COVID-19 Digital Certificate, for individuals who have received all required doses of a vaccine as approved for use in Australia. 
  2. An Immunisation History Statement, which displays all vaccinations or medical contraindications and authorised exemptions, including COVID-19, that have been reported to the Australian Immunisation Register.

The Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) is a national immunisation register which records vaccines given to all people in Australia. This includes COVID-19 vaccines, vaccines given under the National Immunisation Program, and privately, such as for seasonal influenza or travel.

How can you access your Immunisation History Statement?
You can access your Immunisation History Statement:

  • online, by setting up your own myGov account and then accessing your Medicare online account; or
  • through the Express Plus Medicare mobile app; or
  • by calling the Australian Immunisation Register enquiries line on 1800 653 809 (8am-5pm Monday to Friday AEST) and asking them to send your statement to you. Please allow up to 14 days to receive your statement in the post; or
  • by asking your doctor or vaccination provider to print a copy of your statement for you.

The How residential aged care workers can prove your COVID-19 vaccination status to your employer fact sheet provides information about the evidence required to provide to employers as proof of COVID-19 vaccination and has been provided to all residential aged care facilities to distribute to their workforce.

Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination webinars now online

A series of live webinars on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for residential aged care workers have taken place over the last two weeks. The webinar recordings for NSW, QLD, SA and TAS are now available online.

The NSW, QLD, TAS and SA webinars can be found on the Department of Health website:

Webinars for the ACT and NT, which took place on Friday 3 September, will be available soon.

Victoria’s live event will take place this Friday 10 September from 2.00pm – 3.00pm AEST. The details to join the webinar are provided below.

When:  Friday 10 September 2021

Time: The webinar will start promptly at 2:00pm AEST

Join from the event link
https://health-au.webex.com/health-au/j.php?MTID=mbb61f175bc52db55cd9828c6f2369cc8
If required:
Event number: 2652 338 1988
Event password: pxGW83WP77h (79498397 from phones)

02 9338 2221 (Toll free)
If required: Access code: 265 233 81988.

NSW Health – Updated advice

The screening advice for residential aged care facilities and home care service providers has been updated for 6 September 2021.

The key messages for this update include:

Updated COVID-19 vaccination requirements for residential aged care facility staff:

  • All aged care workers who live in an area of concern and work at a facility outside of that area, must have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or evidence of an appointment for vaccination by 17 September 2021, in order to attend work.
  • From 9.00am on 17 September 2021, all workers employed by a residential aged care facility or contracted to provide services for 1 or more residents of the facility in NSW, will be required to have their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination.
  • By 31 October 2021, any health practitioners attending a residential aged care facility under arrangement by the resident, must have at least 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • There is an updated FAQs and fact sheet (PDF)  for workers which is also available in five other languages.

Updated COVID-19 vaccination requirements for home care service provider workers:

  • From 9 September 2021, in order to work, all home care staff who live or work in an area of concern will be required to have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or have evidence of an appointment for vaccination that is before 19 September 2021.
  • All healthcare workers working for public sector or through private health facilities home care service providers, are required to have their first COVID-19 vaccine by 30 September 2021 and their second COVID-19 vaccine 30 November 2021.

This information can change rapidly so please check the NSW Health website at least daily for updates.

SA RACFs mandatory QR Check in and staff vaccinations

The SA Government has updated the Information for Residential Aged Care Facilities – RACF Emergency Management Direction (PDF) fact sheet which outlines the requirements around mandatory vaccination of residential aged care workers and provides clarification about exemptions. Under the RACF Emergency Management Direction, from 17 September 2021, residential aged care workers must have received at least one dose of a TGA approved COVID-19 vaccine and have evidence of a booking to receive, or have received, a second dose.

From 10 September 2021, anyone entering a RACF, including employees, contractors, volunteers and visitors, must use COVID SAfe Check-In (QR Code) to capture their relevant contact details. If they are not able to use the COVID Safe Check-In, they must sign in using a paper record. RACF must display the COVID SAfe Check-In QR code at the point of entry. A paper record must be made available for people who are unable to use the COVID Safe Check-In app.

Further information about COVID-19 and Aged Care is available on the SA Health website.

Infection Control Link Nurse (CICLN) training program - free for SA RACFs

SA Health is committed to supporting the aged care sector in the prevention, preparation, management and recovery stages of responding to COVID-19 situations in South Australia.

Last year, all South Australian RACF were invited to send a representative to attend Infection Control (IC) and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Donning and Doffing Training provided by SA Health’s Infection Control Services. The practical session is available to view online and may be used in conjunction with the Training Tool for the Correct Use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for Residential Aged Care Facilities.

This training supplemented the mandatory Understanding COVID-19 for Aged Care Workers online training module, which is required to be completed by all employees and contractors who provide nursing care or personal care to residents in a residential aged care facility. This online training is being reviewed and updated and more information will be provided in the coming weeks.

To further assist RACF with their outbreak preparedness activities, Office for Ageing Well invites expressions of interest from RACF to attend a free 5-day COVID-19 Infection Control Link Nurse (CICLN) training program, provided by Infection Control Services (ICS), Communicable Disease Control Branch, Department for Health and Wellbeing. The program comprises 2 days of face-to-face training (Mon-Tues) in Adelaide’s CBD and 3 days of blended delivery (MS Teams and self-directed eLearning activities) (Wed-Fri).

The 1 week training program covers:

  • Infection prevention and control in the context of COVID-19
  • Infection control risk assessment
  • Outbreak response
  • PPE and PFR fit testing
  • COVID-19 swab collection and vaccinations

Please note, there is very limited availability for this training. More sessions may be run in the future. Please nominate only one representative in your expression of interest.

Expressions of interest should be emailed to officeforageingwell@sa.gov.au by COB Friday 17 September and include:

  • Name of RACF

  • Name and role of person who would be undertaking the training program

  • Confirmation that the person can attend 2 days face-to-face in Adelaide CBD plus 3 days online

  • Preference for date:

    • 18 – 22 October 2021

    • 22 – 26 November 2021.

WA Health Updates

WA Health has published the Health Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions. The purpose of the directions is to put in place measures to address the unique risks posed by COVID-19 in health care settings in order to limit the spread of COVID-19 in Western Australia.

The COVID-19 Aged Care Vaccination Webinar is now available on the WA Health YouTube channel. Staff can utilise YouTube auto-translate function to access the webinar in over 100 languages.

WA Health has released a Frequently Asked Questions document to accompany the Residential Aged Care Facility Worker Access Directions, we encourage everyone to review the directions and read the FAQs sheet.

Information on vaccinations

Please see below advice and options to help your workforce access a COVID-19 vaccination. The WACHS CVP Clinic Schedule 6 Sept - 1 Oct shows upcoming regional State-run clinics and the Metropolitan COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic Schedule 4 Sept to 12 Sept, containing the metropolitan State-run clinic schedule. It would be appreciated if these could be shared with your staff.

All residential aged care workers (including volunteers) are being provided with priority access for Pfizer vaccination at State-run clinics.

Please bring evidence of your occupation such as your employee ID or a payslip along with photo ID and your Medicare card, if you have one.

Booking appointments
Bookings for GP, GP Respiratory Clinics, ACCHS or State-run clinics can be made through the Commonwealth’s online booking system. This system will automatically direct to VaccinateWA for State-run clinics. Vaccinate WA is a live system and additional appointments are being added regularly. Calling 13 COVID (13 26843) is another booking option from 8am-6pm, 7-days a week.

Staff can contact Sonic Clinical Services Australia 1300 355 747 Monday to Friday between 7am and 3pm to book an appointment at one of their sites. Please note, bookings are by appointment only. These sites are:

Walk-in option (no booking required)
As a residential aged care worker, you can walk-on to any State-run clinic in either metropolitan or regional WA for your vaccine eligibility group, without making a booking. However, please be aware that other people will be attending the clinic and you might need to wait in a queue, but you should be able to get a vaccination within a reasonable time frame. It is best to not turn up less than an hour before closing time as the clinic may not be able to fit you in.

Please register your details on VaccinateWA beforehand or by calling 13 COVID (13 26843). In some smaller regional clinics, you may not always be able to get a vaccine on the same day as you walk-in. Clinic staff will work with you to schedule you in as soon as possible.

Any residential aged care worker having trouble accessing a clinic is encouraged to contact the team at COVID.Immunisation@health.wa.gov.au for support.

Group bookings
Group bookings are a great opportunity to arrange vaccinations for a number of residential aged care workers at one occasion. Please ensure everyone registers on VaccinateWA and then email COVID.Immunisation@health.wa.gov.au advising the number of staff seeking vaccination, location for preferred State-run vaccination clinic, and vaccine preference of anyone aged 60 years and over.

Advice on AstraZeneca vaccination appointments
If you have an appointment at a State-run clinic to receive your first dose of AstraZeneca, you should have received correspondence to see if you wish to switch to a Pfizer COVID-19 appointment. If you have any questions, please contact COVID.Immunisation@health.wa.gov.au.

If you have already received your first dose of AstraZeneca, the current advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) is that your second dose should also be AstraZeneca. We encourage you to keep your second dose AstraZeneca appointment. For more information please visit Advice for people who have had their first dose of AstraZeneca vaccine.

 

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