Government asks Primary Health Networks to roll out flu vaccine to aged care homes – as providers report shortfalls

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Aged Care Minister Senator Richard Colbeck says the Primary Health Networks (PHNs) will contact all residential aged care providers by region to carry out a needs assessment and coordinate flu vaccination programs for homes with an “identified need”.

This help from the PHNs may include sourcing the vaccine and supplying qualified vaccine administrators.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) – which is the key medical decision-making committee for health emergencies – had previously advised that because to the COVID-19 pandemic, all residential aged care staff and visiting workers should be vaccinated by 1 May 2020.

But in past years – even with providers being required to offer a free flu vaccination to staff – less than 5% of providers have had more than 95% of their staff vaccinated.

We also understand some providers have not been able to access the vaccine due to shortages – to the point that the Department of Health has opened a new email address for providers to report their supply issues: COVID-19FluVaccine@health.gov.au.

We approached the Department for comment on how many providers have not been able to access the vaccine, but had not received a response by the time of publication.

We will keep you posted.

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