A 2018 Australian Aged Care Quality Agency-led national review into infectious disease management practices and vaccination rates in aged care facilities found that only 15% had at least three-quarters of their staff vaccinated against the flu – and only 3.5% had the recommended 95% of staff vaccinated.
The survey of 2,609 homes also revealed that only 35.9% had reached the recommended vaccination rate for residents (also 95%).
The Federal Government made provision of influenza vaccination programs to all staff in residential aged care homes compulsory in 2018 after 2017’s flu season, the worst in over a decade, which resulted in 1,137 deaths – 90% of whom were aged over 65.
However, while the new regulations have made it compulsory for facilities to offer vaccines to their staff, workers aren’t required to accept them.
The Department of Health has found that only 50.4% of nurses, doctors and other health workers were vaccinated against the flu in 2018.
Flu activity has also increased this year, with a series of outbreaks in residential aged care facilities across NSW and QLD, including seven reported deaths. Between February and March 2019, there have been 2,244 influenza cases confirmed in NSW alone – double the number of February 2018.