Booster shots to be advanced as COVID-19 cases rise in aged care homes

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The Commonwealth Department of Health is in talks with residential aged care home operators to bring forward where possible COVID-19 booster clinics currently scheduled for early next year.

It’s timely as the number of COVID-19 cases in residential aged care homes has increased for the first time since September.

As at 8am on 10 December, there were 243 active cases (169 residents and 74 staff) of COVID-19 across 36 residential aged care homes. Seven days earlier, there were 191 active cases (127 residents and 64 staff) of COVID-19 in 28 residential aged care homes.

The Commonwealth’s COVID-19 booster vaccination program in residential aged care is well underway. To date, over 900 clinics have delivered Pfizer booster doses to residents and workers at residential aged care facilities across Australia. More than 40,718 aged care residents had received a booster shot as of 8 December.

TLC Healthcare CEO Lou Pascuzzi said the provider’s immunisation teams have re-visited 62 of the 130 Victorian residential aged care homes it assisted in the initial vaccine rollout.

“We anticipate that the residents, staff, and contractors at all of the homes will become eligible over the next six months, so we plan to complete the program by May 2022,” Mr Pascuzzi said.

The Federal Government on Monday accepted the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation’s recommendation that the length of time from a second COVID-19 vaccine dose to a booster shot be brought forward from six months to five months.

The majority of residential aged care homes with active COVID-19 cases are in Victoria, but there are four active cases in NSW and one in the ACT.

The top five active outbreaks in aged care homes in terms of numbers are:

  • 38 resident cases (including 12 deaths) and three staff cases in Baptcare Westhaven Community in Footscray, 5km west of Melbourne’s CBD;
  • 37 resident cases (including two deaths) and eight staff cases in BlueCross Elly Kay (a second outbreak) in Mordialloc, 24km southeast of Melbourne’s CBD;
  • 29 resident cases (including three deaths) and six staff cases in BlueCross The Gables in Camberwell, 9km east of Melbourne’s CBD;
  • 26 resident cases (including one death) and five staff cases at Bankstown City Aged Care’s Gillawarna Village (second outbreak), in Georges Hall, 24km southwest of Sydney’s CBD;
  • 25 resident cases (including three deaths) and 12 staff cases in Hope Aged Care Sunshine in Sunshine West, Melbourne (second outbreak) in Sunshine West, 13km west of Melbourne’s CBD.