Dementia Australia has welcomed the COVID-19 vaccination booster program to commence in residential aged care homes this week.
CEO Maree McCabe AM said people living with dementia are some of the most vulnerable people in our community who have been at heightened risk of COVID-19 throughout the pandemic.
“The impact of vaccinations throughout 2021 has provided some assurance to residents, families and staff in reducing their risk of developing serious symptoms,” McCabe said.
“The vaccination booster now available to all will contribute further protection making the environment safer for all – for the individuals, other residents, staff, family and visitors.”
With more than two-thirds of aged care residents living with moderate to severe cognitive impairment it is essential clear communication, and enough time is provided to enable informed consent.
“The consent process must allow a person living with dementia or cognitive impairment time to digest the information, ask questions and perhaps consult with a family carer,” McCabe said.
“This also allows time for the staff to consult with and obtain consent from a substitute decision maker or guardian if required.
“It is important for all residential aged care providers to ensure the teams administering the vaccinations are suitably supported to determine a resident’s capacity to provide informed consent for the booster program.
Another crucial element of the process, McCabe said, is ensuring staff know what to look for and what to do if a resident who is living with dementia or a cognitive impairment experiences an adverse vaccination reaction.
“People living with dementia or cognitive impairment may not always be able to communicate adverse reactions,” she said.
Dementia Australia supports mandatory vaccinations across the aged care sector and urges people living with dementia or mild cognitive impairment, their families and carers, to receive all the recommended COVID-19 vaccinations as soon as possible.
Beginning today (Monday, Nov 8), booster vaccines will be available for all aged care residents and staff who have completed their primary course (two doses) of a COVID-19 vaccination at least six months earlier.
Anyone with questions or concerns for themselves or a loved one are welcome to call the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500.