South Australia will begin vaccinating aged care workers against coronavirus amid concerns about the Commonwealth’s rollout.
The Federal Government is responsible for administering the vaccine in aged care but this week admitted it had no idea how many staff had received jabs.
Premier Steven Marshall says anyone working in residential facilities in SA will now be able to access the Pfizer jab at mass vaccination hubs.
“At the moment, the percentage of aged care workers that are fully vaccinated is way too low,” he told reporters on Thursday.
“That’s why we’re using some of our capacity within the state system to get as many people in that vulnerable setting as protected as they possibly can, as quickly as they can.”
“Given the vulnerability of residential aged care facilities highlighted by what is happening in Victoria, we want to ensure that facility workers are fully vaccinated as soon as possible in order to protect some of the most vulnerable people within our community.”
Asked whether the state might also step in to vaccinate aged care residents, Marshall said SA Health would do whatever it takes to keep people safe.
“Where we’ve got excess capacity, we don’t care whose responsibility it is, we’re just going to do whatever we can to protect South Australia,” he said.
Minister for Health and Wellbeing Stephen Wade said the move was another example of the Government being agile in getting the vaccine to where it is needed the most.
“We are continuing to scale up the state’s vaccine rollout in a way that, in accord with the latest health advice, best protects South Australians and optimises the use of vaccine supplies,” said Minister Wade.
“With the majority of South Australian aged care residents now having received at least their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, we are providing further support to protect this vulnerable part of our population by providing vaccinations to the staff who provide care.
“We need to do everything we can to prevent an outbreak in one of our aged care facilities. Broadening our rollout will improve the layers of protection.”
Chief Public Health Officer, Prof Nicola Spurrier, said mid-May data showed that only approximately 10 percent of staff in residential aged care facilities were fully immunised against COVID-19, while 20 percent of staff had received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“We know there are many people who work in residential aged care who are 50 years and older, and with the change of clinical advice from ATAGI in April, this age group is now generally recommended to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine. The downside is that there is a twelve week interval between doses,” Spurrier said.
“The Pfizer vaccine requires a three week interval between doses and this is a way we can provide quicker protection to residential aged care workers.
“The Pfizer vaccine will be available for anyone who works in a residential aged care facility, including clinical, administrative and support staff, no matter their age and I encourage them all to roll up and get vaccinated to protect their residents, their loved ones and the wider community.”
Residential aged care workers under 50 years old can book their vaccination online here, while residential aged care workers aged 50 years and over can book their vaccination by calling 1800 253 787.
Residential aged care workers will need to bring proof of employment to their appointment, such as a payslip, letter from their employers or current work ID card showing their employment.
Find out more about COVID-19 vaccinations here.