The Aged & Community Services Association (ACSA) is calling for state and territory governments to follow the lead of Western Australia by introducing mandatory vaccination for its entire care workforce.
ACSA chair Sara Blunt said workers in the sector needed to be prioritised for vaccines before the national cabinet finalised its ‘in principle disposition’ on mandatory inoculation of the workforce against COVID-19.
“We support the introduction of mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for both residential and home care workers, with appropriate exemptions on medical and other significant grounds,” Blunt said.
“This must be done in a way that increases vaccination rates without adversely impacting on workforce numbers, at a time when the sector needs more workers to support the extra demands of COVID-19 and the implementation of the Royal Commission reforms.”
Blunt added that the ACSA wants, as a matter of urgency, all Australian state and territory governments to take action safeguarding the lives of residents and workers in aged care and disability support homes.
“Governments showed during the pandemic how quickly and co-operatively they could work during a crisis. Let’s see the same ingenuity and urgency applied […] to safeguard tens of thousands of lives with greater vaccination of aged care residents and workers,” Ms Blunt said.
The group has highlighted new polling that shows about 49% of Australians think that all people within aged care and disability facilities, including residents and workers, are being vaccinated ‘more slowly than they would like’.
The Essential Report polling also revealed that a greater number of respondents in Victoria were unhappy with the efficiency of inoculating people in frontline services, with 57% saying vaccination of residents and workers in the aged care and disability sector was slower than they would like.
Another 47% of Victorian respondents said the COVID-19 vaccines were being administered too slowly for frontline healthcare employees.
“Vaccinating aged care residents and the workforce is an essential protection for older Australians, particularly as covid circulation and outbreaks continue in the community,” Blunt said.
“Victoria, NSW, South Australian and Queensland have made positive moves towards giving aged care workers priority access at their vaccination hubs, but we must step up the effort.”