Making aged care residents safe is the Government’s top priority says COVID-19 Vaccine Taskforce commander Lieutenant General John Frewen (pictured above). But Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, who met with the Australian Aged Care Collaboration and Australian Council of Trade Unions on Monday, conceded just 107,452 aged care workers, roughly 40%, had received their first dose.
Aged care workers have until September 17 to receive at least one vaccine dose or they will be unable to work, creating the risk of workforce shortages in a sector already short of workers.
We have reports that female care workers of child bearing age are rejecting the jab for concerns over potential impacts on pregnancies, stating they will leave the sector if forced to comply.
Federal Government contractors have twice visited every aged care in Australia to provide vaccinations to resident and workers. Another 3,416 doses were given in Commonwealth aged care facilities on 13 July, totalling 468,463 doses, with 215,175 receiving two doses.
Lieutenant General John Frewen said Federal Government was prioritising aged care workers, including through access to the Pfizer vaccine at vaccine hubs.
The government was working with the sector on protocols for visitors to aged care facilities and new residents moving in to them too, General Frewen said.
“This is right at the top of the concerns that I have at the moment and we are looking at every possible avenue to make sure that aged care is as safe as it can be,” he said.
A spokesman for Mr Hunt said about 25,000 workers were expected to be vaccinated by their employers under the process. Commonwealth teams were revisiting aged care homes in Sydney to deliver more vaccines too, the spokesman said.
There have been 685 deaths in Australia’s aged care homes to date.