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June 29, 2021

Aged care workers should be vaccinated on site.

AGED care provider, RSL LifeCare, have applauded the Australian Government for their decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for staff however warned that more needs to be done to support the actual roll-out if September deadlines for mandatory first-dose vaccinations are to be met.

RSL LifeCare CEO Graham Millett said COVID vaccinations for aged care workers should immediately be fast-tracked by offering pop-up injection clinics on-site at aged care homes, rather than each worker making their own arrangements with their GPs.

National cabinet agreed on Monday night to make vaccinations mandatory for all aged care workers[1]. However, only 140 GPs in NSW are signed up to administer the Pfizer vaccine, which is recommended for all Australians under 60 years of age[2], and which could create a bottleneck for aged care workers.

“We have a remarkable 93 per cent of all our aged care residents who have now had the vaccination, because doctors vaccinated them in pop-up clinics at each of our 33 residential homes across NSW and the ACT,” he said.

“If similar arrangements could apply to aged care workers, then the roll-out would be expedited.

“We would also encourage local hospitals making a vaccination service available to the front-line aged care workforce who are protecting some of the most vulnerable people in our community.”

Mr Millett said 10 per cent of RSL LifeCare’s 2,600 residential aged care workforce were now fully vaccinated, with a further 10 per cent having had the first jab. In order for the remaining 80 per cent to rapidly become vaccinated, the current logistical processes will need to be streamlined. The way to achieve this is to have clinics established on-site”.

The Australian Government announced on Monday that 236 GPs would be added to the Pfizer roll-out this week, with 51 of them in NSW, taking the state’s total to 140.

Another 500 GPs will be added in the week of July 12, with an additional 310 coming online the following week. There are also extra roving vaccination clinics.

The National Cabinet agreed to mandate that at least the first dose of COVID-19 vaccine be administered by mid-September 2021 for all residential aged care workers[3]. It has provided $11 million to enable these workers to attend off-site vaccination centres and GPs in the following three ways:

  • Casual staff going off-site for vaccination – a flat fee of $80 payable per staff member, per dose.
  • Paid leave for casual staff who become unwell after vaccination and do not have other leave entitlements – one day’s paid leave (at a rate of $185) for up to a quarter of the provider’s total number of casual staff.
  • Facilitation of off-site vaccination for employees – up to $500 per site in flexible vaccination facilitation costs per site, which may be used for activities like: transport services, arranging groups of staff to be vaccinated and or any other reasonable expenses that incentivise staff to get vaccinated[4].

[1] Prime Minister Scott Morrison public statement 28 June 2021 https://www.pm.gov.au/media/national-cabinet-statement-5

[2] https://www.smh.com.au/national/nsw/berejiklian-warns-nsw-cannot-deliver-pfizer-without-more-gps-20210628-p584yt.html

[3] Prime Minister Scott Morrison public statement 28 June 2021 https://www.pm.gov.au/media/national-cabinet-statement-5

[4] Prime Minister Scott Morrison public statement 28 June 2021 https://www.pm.gov.au/media/national-cabinet-statement-5

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