OCAV advocates for clearer vaccine policy for aged care

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OCAV advocates for clearer vaccine policy for aged care

July 19, 2021

OCAV is part of the Aged Care Collaboration with other aged care providers, industry associations and trade unions to warn the federal government that care for aged care residents may be compromised if staff are not vaccinated by the time it becomes mandatory.

Aged care workers have until September 17 to receive at least one dose of Pfizer or they will be unable to work in an aged care home.

“This creates the very real risk of workforce shortages,” CEO Phillip Wohlers said.

The Aged Care Collaboration has delivered a communique delivered to the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt and Covid-19 Vaccine Taskforce commander John Frewen.

The communique says it is government failures that have caused low vaccination rates – not workers, that the federal government had failed to deliver workplace vaccination and continued to ignore advice that vaccine supply, accessibility and support are the central barriers in aged care, not hesitancy.

The Collaboration has requested that staff receive their vaccines at their workplace, transparency and accountability on vaccine data and supply, and up to two days of federally-funded paid vaccination leave per dose.

“The original plan – Phase 1A – was that residents and staff were to receive their vaccinations in the workplace, and we welcomed this,” Phillip Wohlers said.

“All aged care staff look after some of the most vulnerable people in the community, and they deserve priority in the vaccine access lane – as the original plan set out to do.”

He added that it should not be up to workers to make the roll out of vaccines work, it’s the health authorities and government who have the vaccines and the resources to get it out into the community, reducing as many barriers as possible.

However, the initial plan was dumped due to supply shortages, with aged care workers being asked to make their own bookings. The result has been a series of barriers to access due to shortages and limited locations where vaccines were being offered, which has prevented many from being able to get in early.

Before the Aged Care Collaboration was established, OCAV was already working with federal politicians and the media calling on the federal government to provide vaccines in aged care to staff as well as residents.

The advocacy began after the organisation was told that a health care team was coming to Liscombe House to vaccinate residents and staff only to learn later the same day that the offer to vaccinate staff had been rescinded.

The issue was raised in Parliament House question time resulting in a contracted health care team coming to Liscombe House the following week to vaccinate residents and staff.

As of early July 97% of Liscombe House residents have received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine, and 70% of staff have either had their first dose of Astra Zeneca or both doses of Pfizer.

“While we wait for movement from the government, we are encouraging the remaining staff to use a specialist vaccination centre,” Mr Wohlers said.

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Dorothy Clayton has felt very much ‘at home’ since she moved into Braeside Park nine years ago. Now, Dorothy, the village’s volunteer pastoral care worker, tries to ensure that others also feel a sense of belonging in the Berwick village.

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