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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Residents and families concerned aged care facilities not geared to deliver booster shots

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The Federal Government has revealed that 81 per cent of eligible older Australians living in residential aged care (RAC) have received a COVID-19 booster dose.

The data comes as the Government wrapped up the commonwealth booster clinics, which oversaw administering of booster doses to both residents and workers in RAC facilities across the country.

The Government claims that the remaining 19 per cent of residents did not receive a booster shot due to lack of consent or ineligibility on the day of the in-reach clinic.

In a statement to providers, the Government communicated that it is “critical” that every resident is offered the opportunity to receive a booster dose.

“If you are not actively arranging booster shots for remaining eligible residents, you must do this as soon as possible,” the statement read.

“Residential aged care facilities are responsible for ensuring the safety and protection of residents through access and support to COVID-19 vaccination.

But on the ground, residents and their families feel that providers are not positioned to take such responsibility.

Lynne (surname withheld), whose husband lives in a Melbourne care facility, tells Aged Care News that despite outbreaks occurring in the facility, providers have not taken the initiative to organise boosters on residents’ behalf.

“[After my husband entered the facility, he] promptly got COVID, was very ill for three weeks, [but he’s] all good now.

“So this week I ask the manager when hubby will get a booster. Manager’s reply: take him to your GP.

“So much for facility responsibility.”

It comes as the health department has issued a request for tender (RFT), with RAC facilities invited to register to “self-vaccinate” their staff, residents and family members.

The department claims that the proposal “provides for greater flexibility for residential aged care providers”.

“The RFT provides an important opportunity for residential aged care facilities to have maximum flexibility to administer COVID-19 vaccines when it suits their facility, residents and staff without needing to schedule an external vaccination provider,” the department states.

Applicants must be able to demonstrate they have the capability and infrastructure to administer COVID-19 vaccines and be approved providers under the Aged Care Act to be eligible.
The government has set a deadline of March 11, 2022 for such submissions, though it claims that it will assess and approve them on a rolling basis “to allow providers to commence as soon as practicable”.

The department encourages all residential aged care facilities to consider applying under this RFT.

Further information about the request for tender can be found via this link, or questions can be submitted to COVID19VaccineProcurement@health.gov.au.

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