Residential aged care service providers

Providers play a key role in ensuring their residents and workers can access COVID-19 vaccinations safely and easily.

Vaccination

Residential aged care homes are responsible for ensuring residents have access to the recommended COVID-19 vaccine dose as soon as they are eligible.

On 12 December 2022, the Australian Government launched the National COVID-19 Health Management Plan. The National Plan recognises that health response measures are still required to protect those most at risk from COVID-19.

Throughout 2023, COVID-19 vaccines will continue to be principally administered in residential aged care homes by primary care providers such as general practitioners and pharmacists.

Additional help for aged care will be provided through the Vaccine Administration Partners Program (VAPP). The VAPP will deliver COVID-19 vaccine in-reach clinics in residential aged care homes as a last resort option in circumstances where there is a shortfall in primary care availability to administer COVID-19 vaccinations in this setting.

Primary Health Networks (PHNs) will continue to receive funding under the Vulnerable Vaccination Program to develop and implement innovative, short-term COVID-19 vaccination activities. PHNs will tailor these activities to the needs of priority populations in their regions, including aged care. This will allow PHNs to partner with primary care vaccination providers, local organisations and service providers to protect those most at risk from COVID-19.

For more information, see the National COVID-19 Health Management Plan for 2023.  

If you have any questions, please email RACFVaccineClinics@health.gov.au.

For homes currently experiencing, or that have recently experienced, a COVID-19 outbreak:

  • Arrange COVID-19 booster dose vaccination for those residents and eligible workers who are not COVID-19 positive as soon as possible.
  • COVID-19 positive residents and eligible workers can receive their booster dose 3 months after COVID-19 infection.

All providers are requested to provide to all residents and their families a fact sheet on COVID-19 winter doses, available in 20 languages, explaining the benefits of a COVID-19 winter vaccine and why it has been recommended for people living in residential aged care.

Engage with your Primary Health Network

Residential aged care homes are encouraged to engage with your Primary Health Network for assistance in securing a primary care vaccination provider if you do not have an existing GP or pharmacist available.

How to support resident and worker vaccination

As a residential aged care service provider, you have an important role in ensuring your residents and workers are protected against serious illness or death from COVID-19.

Residents

Residents who are not yet vaccinated, or are now eligible for their next dose, should be supported to access a COVID-19 vaccine as quickly and safely as possible. Residents can receive a vaccination by a visiting GP or Pharmacist to your aged care home. Talk to your Primary Health Network if you require assistance accessing a local primary care channel.

Workers

Residential aged care workers may be required by a state or territory public health order to be up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations. Vaccination continues to be important in managing the risk related to COVID-19 in high-risk settings such as residential aged care.

You are encouraged to print and display posters in your aged care home in staff areas to promote the importance of being up to date with your COVID-19 vaccinations.

It is important that employers consider COVID-19 vaccination in their COVID-19 risk management plans and consider its inclusion in occupational health programs going forward. This approach reduces risk for both residents and workers.

Preparing for your COVID-19 vaccination clinic

Residential aged care homes are responsible for:

  • preparing your aged care home and residents for vaccination clinics
  • obtaining and recording residents' consent
  • monitoring and reporting adverse side effects
  • providing information to your residents and workers.

The following resources are available to help you plan and prepare for COVID-19 vaccination clinics at your aged care home.

How to obtain and record resident consent

As with all other vaccines, informed consent is required for each COVID-19 vaccine dose, including booster doses. Residential aged care providers are responsible for this process which must be completed ahead of the vaccination day.

Guidance on consent in the residential aged care context can assist with this process.

Does my aged care home need to receive consent prior to each dose?

You need to obtain the resident's consent to receive a primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine. For most people a primary course is 2 doses. You can obtain consent for both doses at the same time, prior to the person receiving their first dose.

You are also required to support residents to consent separately to receiving booster doses and to making the consent forms available to the vaccine provider on the day of clinic.

You must keep a record of the resident's consent. This record is used to confirm consent prior to vaccination.

If you are obtaining consent verbally, you must confirm if consent is being provided for both doses of the same vaccine for a primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine, for a booster dose or for a winter dose. Record this through your usual practices.

Our consent form provides that consent is for a primary course of a COVID-19 vaccine (2 doses of the same vaccine), a third dose for people who are severely immunocompromised, an initial booster dose or a winter dose.

Residential aged care providers are responsible for keeping consent records for all residents.

Vaccine providers may request a copy of residents' consent records from the residential aged care home. You can provide this on request, however, must retain the original consent records on site.

More details

For more information about valid consent, refer to the Australian Immunisation Handbook: Preparing for vaccination – Valid consent.

Some jurisdictions have specific requirements relevant to guardians (or substitute decision-makers) consenting on behalf of another person. Refer to relevant state and territory laws for more information.

Provide information to your residents

You need to provide residents and/or their representatives with detailed and accurate information about COVID-19 vaccination. You should give the following information before vaccination day (translated information available):

These information sheets are available in other languages.

How do I monitor and report adverse events? 

Residential aged care homes must monitor residents for any side effects after vaccination. These are usually mild and go away within 2 days. They include:

  • pain or swelling at the injection site
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • chills
  • fever
  • joint pain.

If residents experience pain at the injection site or fever, headaches or body aches after vaccination, they can take paracetamol or ibuprofen. These help to reduce the above symptoms (they do not need to take paracetamol or ibuprofen before vaccination). If there is swelling at the injection site, they can use a cold compress.

Reporting adverse events

Health professionals are encouraged to report all serious reactions, known as adverse events following immunisation (AEFI) – particularly if they are unexpected or significant.

If a resident has an immediate serious reaction or is unwell in the days after a vaccination, you can report it to either:

Vaccine workforce provider in-reach teams are responsible for monitoring residents and reporting serious reactions for the first 15 minutes post-vaccination. After that initial period, residential aged care homes are responsible for monitoring and reporting any serious reactions.

Learn more about record keeping and reporting requirements.

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