Government efforts to lift NDIS vaccination coverage improving

By Melissa Coade

Thursday October 14, 2021

Linda Reynolds
NDIS minister Linda Reynolds. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Senator Linda Reynolds has said that national vaccine rates for NDIS participants have lifted thanks to new initiatives to support the current phase of the rollout. 

In a statement on Wednesday, the minister for the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) said measures in consultation with NDIS participants and their representatives, as well as stakeholders from the disability sector, and the state and territory governments had contributed to growing vaccination coverage. 

One of the new government initiatives to boost vaccine uptake was the establishment of a disability information gateway that included support resources to help participants book their vaccination, with a dedicated hotline (1800 643 787) to seek assistance and advice.

“For those states and territories which have been in lockdown due to outbreak of the Delta variant, and are beginning to open up, we see the highest rates of vaccination amongst NDIS participants,” Reynolds said.

“The commonwealth is providing local government area data to states and territories to identify areas where we need to focus our efforts to ensure NDIS participants can access vaccines in a safe way, which is appropriate to their needs,” she said.

To date, more than three-quarters of NDIS participants who are 16 years and over have received their first shot, and 60% are fully vaccinated. 

“Currently, 73.9% of NDIS participants in shared residential accommodation are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 — more than 10 percentage points higher than the national vaccination rate,” Reynolds said. 

“Significantly, since late-August when 12-15-year-old NDIS participants became eligible, more than 51% have received at least one dose of the vaccination,” she added. 

The minister said the government was committed to ‘increasing opportunities’ to ensure COVID-19 vaccines were delivered to scheme participants, their families and their carers. The vaccination rate for NDIS screened workers with at least one dose has reached 80% and 67.4% are now fully vaccinated.

With more than 10,000 locations around Australia offering COVID-19 vaccines, including disability-specific vaccine hubs and an ‘easy booking’ system hosted by the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Reynolds said ‘every effort’ would be made to give all Australians living with a disability the chance to be protected against the COVID-19 virus.

Other government measures to help facilitate vaccine access to those living with disabilities include transport booking arrangements for NDIS participants (organised via NDIA, their Local Area Coordinator, the NDIS Commission, or online agency platforms), and a searchable portal on the website of the department of health to find the nearest vaccine hub according to suburb and jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, Labor’s shadow minister for health and ageing Mark Butler has hit out at the government for making premature announcements about the availability of booster shots of the COVID vaccine and being underprepared. Referring to a recent federal announcement made by the prime minister that 500,000 eligible Australians who are classified as ‘severely immunocompromised’ would be eligible to receive booster shots, Butler said the government demonstrated that it could not follow up its policy announcements with actual service delivery. 

In another example of not following through on their own announcement, Australians seeking a booster shot have been met with the news they cannot book booster shot appointments and GPs and state health departments still haven’t been notified about the booster vaccine program by the Morrison-Joyce government,” Butler said. 

“By [the government’s] own admission, hundreds of thousands of immunocompromised Australians need additional protection from COVID. They are being let down by a government far more interested in announcements than delivery,” he said.


NDIS too reliant on public servants’ ‘natural empathy’, Reynolds says

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