Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) says the decision to make vaccination of aged care workers mandatory reinforces the need to ensure doses are readily available and staff are supported to be vaccinated.
“We must do all we can to keep older Australians in care safe,” LASA CEO Sean Rooney said.
“Like all things regarding the pandemic, the protections we put in place must be informed by the medical experts.
“Mandatory vaccination of aged care staff will enhance protections for them and the people they care for.”
Rooney, pictured above, said the compulsory vaccination announcement raises a number of questions, notably, what exceptions will be in place for staff who are unable to be vaccinated?
“Will GPs, allied health professionals, volunteers and family members who regularly visit aged care homes and spend long periods of time with residents and staff be required to be vaccinated?” Rooney queried.
“What supports will be in place to prioritise staff vaccinations?”
LASA acknowledges the $11 million payment for aged care workers, aimed at covering any leave taken for receiving the COVID-19 vaccination.
“It is essential that residential aged care facilities are enabled and resourced to support staff so the immunisation is done,” Rooney said.
“Staff also need to feel supported rather than forced to be vaccinated – priority vaccination should be considered a privilege and we need to be careful that this mandate does not turn it into a burden.
“Aged care providers and staff require more details for the $11 million funding announcement to support the increasing uptake of the vaccinations.
“We also need to know what supports will be in place in the event that aged care homes are left short staffed in the event that some staff are unwilling or unable to be vaccinated. We must ensure that staff numbers and care standards are not compromised.
With only 33 per cent of residential aged care staff having had the vaccine so far, Rooney said much more information is needed on the rollout of the current vaccination program and state-based directions.”
Rooney also asked whether there will be exemptions for staff who have rare conditions – as there are for the influenza vaccination – including anaphylaxis and the Guillain-Barré Syndrome.
“We also want to know whether there will be mandatory vaccinations for home care and community staff who care for older people,” he said.
“It is a national priority to do all we can to protect older Australians in care and the people that care for them.”