On the eve of the mandatory vaccination deadline day, health professionals are sending a clear message to aged care workers: vaccination against COVID-19 is a basic duty.
Leonie Short, a dental therapist and director of Seniors Dental Care Australia, told Aged Care News that mandatory vaccinations, including the annual flu shot, as well as annual testing for blood-borne viruses (BBV), are standard practice for dental staff, even during their training years.
“Annual BBV testing and adherence to infection control guidelines are both requirements for registration with AHPRA and the Dental Board of Australia,” Short, pictured above with her mum, said.
“Unlike nursing, there is no opportunity to be a conscientious objector to immunisation in dentistry.”
Dental practitioners were prioritised for COVID-19 immunisation as part of Phase 1b of the federal government rollout.
Short said that most dental practitioners are now vaccinated, but aged care workers must also comply to facilitate a full resumption of the allied health network.
“As 70 per cent of the deaths caused by COVID-19 in Australia have occurred in residential and aged care facilities, we are putting ourselves at higher risk of contracting COVID-19 by working in the aged care sector,” Short said.
“So, when we are asked to assess and treat patients who are living in care homes, I want to be assured that aged care workers have also complied with recommendations to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Australia.”
“If aged care providers want health workers like medical practitioners, dental practitioners and allied health practitioners to work in their sector, they need to assure us that their workplaces are safe for us to enter – their staff are vaccinated, their infection control is of a very high standard and PPE is worn and used appropriately.”