Last night, the National Cabinet agreed to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for residential aged care staff across the country, 16 months after the virus was first identified and four months after the first Australian was inoculated (21 February).
The question is: shouldn’t village staff be required to inoculate as well given they move amongst a high density group of residents whose average age is 80+? Is village management and support an essential service?
The objective of mandated inoculation would be at least two-fold – make the staff safe and allow them to mix more freely with residents to alleviate isolation and the mental stress that causes.
Many residents do not have ready access to shops to buy food and will rely on the village bus or other residents to make the grocery supply trip for them. This is severely curtailed by lockdowns, affecting nutrition, as well as mental anxiety.
Let’s not forget village community support is the cornerstone of the village offer to residents.
Once the lockdowns are raised, COVID-19 has shown it can reappear quickly and it will be the staff that will likely introduce it to a village. The new Delta variant could be devastating in a village environment.
In the absence of a national representative body to champion the initiative, it is consequently up to operators to facilitate fast inoculation take up by staff, perhaps as part of their Duty of Care.
Pay for time taken to get the jab, and the potential time taken off because of an adverse effect, also needs to be considered. However, the cost to operators will be negligible compared to the negative impact on the local brand – and value – of a village if COVID-19 was to get hold.
Get the jab!