The health and wellbeing of Australians in residential aged care facilities has been a critical concern throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. In Victoria, a number of facilities have experienced COVID-19 outbreaks, particularly throughout 2020. Sadly, many of these outbreaks resulted in the deaths of residents.
Aged care residents can expect to start receiving COVID-19 booster shots in the coming weeks, if the regulator provides approval, the federal aged care minister has announced.
In the latest mandate, the Victorian Government has announced that a large group of ‘authorised workers’ will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by 26 November 2021. Authorised workers must have had their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 15 October 2021, in order to attend a work premises.
Late yesterday, DH VIC confirmed that in-home and community aged care workers are in scope for mandatory vaccination requirements as part of the CHO’s COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination (Workers) Directions. For the avoidance of doubt, the Directions will be amended shortly to clearly identify in-home and community aged care workers as in scope.
Public health orders on mandatory COVID-19 vaccination have now been released by Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Queensland. Victoria’s Department of Health has notified providers they need to ensure workers are vaccinated by Thursday 16 September. The scope of mandatory vaccination for Victorian workers is expected to adhere to the framework endorsed by the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee earlier this month.
REMINDER: New weekly reporting requirements on COVID-19 vaccination status recently introduced for all residential, Home Care Package (HCP) and Short-term Restorative Care (STRC) providers will come into effect on Tuesday 27 July 2021.
The Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement (ACGB) has been funded to provide national grief and loss support for those living and working in aged care, and for the loved ones of aged care recipients; who have been impacted by COVID-19. This is part of the Aged Care COVID-19 grief and trauma response package.
It is vital that all residential aged care services establish processes to emphasise the importance of getting vaccinated against COVID-19 for new residents during the admission process. Ideally new residents should have received all required doses of a COVID-19 vaccine prior to admission. To assist, the Department has developed a protocol, the New Resident COVID-19 Vaccination Protocol, for RACF providers to support new residents to receive their COVID-19 vaccination, if supported by medical advice.