Government should prioritise boosters for disability support workers, CHA

By Tom Ravlic

November 3, 2021

Any delay in vaccinating disability support workers may put people they care for at risk. (DC Studio/Adobe)

Government authorities must priorities disability support workers and the people that they care for as they roll out their COVID vaccine booster program, according to Catholic Health Australia.

Catholic Health Australia represents a large number of non-government hospitals and aged care services, and Nicole Clements, the acting strategy and mission director, said that disability workers should not be forgotten as booster shots are being given to health care workers.

Clements said that there is evidence the immunity offered by the vaccines for COVID-19 begins to wear off after six months and any delay in vaccinating disability support workers may put people they care for at risk.

“Severely immunocompromised Australians were identified by the government as being the cohort most in need of the booster, but we would argue that people with a disability and the workers that care for them are a close second,” Clements said.

“We have a duty to protect the most vulnerable in our community and should start by making sure our staff receive their boosters as soon as possible. These workers are going into people’s homes and moving around the community – it is part of their job description.

Disability support workers seeking priority for booster shots because they work with vulnerable members of the community is in sharp contrast to a recent warning from the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners about Australians in general seeking a medical exemption because of vaccine anxiety.

RACGP president Dr Karen Price said anxiety about receiving a COVID-19 vaccination is not grounds for an exemption from having the vaccine.

Price calls any attempt by people to avoid the coronavirus vaccination as being a “cynical ploy”.

“Anxiety is taken extremely seriously by GPs, and we are here to help any patient who presents with this condition or any other mental health issue. However, anxiety about the vaccine mandate is not grounds for an exemption,” Price said.

She said that vaccine mandates might restrict employment opportunities for those that are unvaccinated but that no individual would be vaccinated forcibly.

GPs live by the Hippocratic Oath and will not administer any medical care or treatment without patient consent” Price said.

“GPs and general practice teams have a lot on their plate at the minute. We are busy delivering COVID-19 vaccines and playing catch up on delayed healthcare due to patients delaying or avoiding screenings and consults during the pandemic.


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