RFBI offers vacant buildings for vaccination hubs: September aged care vaccination unrealistic

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Frank Price, CEO of the Royal Freemasons’ Benevolent Institution (RFBI), is calling on State and Federal Governments to establish vaccination hubs for aged care in operators’ facilities.

On Tuesday, Federal Government wrote to residential aged care provider CEOs to advise all residential aged care workers (nursing and personal care staff, allied health professionals, administration staff, kitchen, cleaning, laundry and garden staff, and volunteers) would be offered the Pfizer vaccine, regardless of age, with the first dose to be mandatory by 17 September.

Mr Price, who had his first jab with residents at RFBI Hawkins Masonic Village in Edgeworth, Lake Macquarie, in March (photographed), has written to the national vaccination taskforce on behalf of his RFBI Board, offering to make available various vacant RFBI buildings as vaccination hubs.

He said while the in-reach program taking place in Greater Sydney appears to be successful in making the vaccination process easier for aged care staff, his staff in regional areas are being advised that the earliest that they can be vaccinated is mid-August right through to January 2022.

“There is no way that we will have all aged care workers vaccinated by mid-September if we continue with this approach,” said Mr Price.

RFBI operates 21 RACFs in NSW and another in ACT. He said the RFBI has three buildings that could be utilised as vaccine hubs at a minimal cost, plus a number of other sites that could be modified for this purpose.

“We understand other operators have also made a similar approach to the Department of Health and the NSW Public Health Unit, but have yet to receive a response,” he said.

If you are a provider with a vacant building that could be used as a vaccination hub, please email Frank at fprice@rfbi.com.au.

Meanwhile, Aged Care Royal Commissioner Lynelle Briggs has called for the Federal Government to urgently vaccinate the aged care workforce, saying the best approach is to send in-reach teams to their places of work to administer the jabs.

“I think the Government’s decision to make vaccination mandatory is a really important first step. But more important is to get vaccines into the arms of aged care workers really, really quickly. You can do that by a number of means, the most efficient will of course be delivery at people’s place of work … they must get vaccinated and vaccinated quickly,” she said.

The main nursing union, the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation, has also called for an in-reach vaccination blitz of aged care workers. The ANMF wants Federal Government to pay for it and the states to administer it.