NSW Aged Care Facilities In Covid Crisis As Vaccine Mandate Closes In
Dozens of aged care facilities across NSW are currently in the midst of Covid outbreaks while a dozen more remain under enhanced surveillance.
Escalating Covid numbers reached new heights in NSW on Wednesday with 633 new cases reported, sending alarm bells ringing with low vaccination numbers in aged care workers, despite government initiatives to have health workers jabbed by Easter, and the more recent vaccine mandate set to be enforced in a month.
Thirty-four of the states aged care facilities are currently dealing with Delta outbreaks according to Health department data, while 10 more are being monitored closely.
Aged & Community Services Australia chief executive Patricia Sparrow, told The Guardian it was “no secret” that the initial rollout left the sector “far more exposed than it should be”.
But Ms. Sparrow remains hopeful with the insurgence of vaccines into the country and made available to a greater proportion of the population.
“But the distribution must prioritise essential aged care workers, including those who support people living in their own homes, to ensure the best possible protection for all”
- Patricia Sparrow
In late July the National Cabinet made Covid-19 vaccination mandatory for residential aged care workers from 17 September 2021 as a condition of employment.
The new requirements include contractors and volunteers engaged by residential aged care facilities, allied health professionals who provide on-site services, and students on placement in aged care facilities.
But with the latest Health data revealing more than 40 per cent of Australian aged care workers have yet to receive their first COVID-19 jab, the enforced mandate seems somewhat implausible.
Meantime, an email to aged care homes and their staff was sent on Monday by the Department of Health reminding them of the need to get vaccinated before the September 17 cut off when the mandatory rules will come into effect.
The message read that 42 per cent of staff which equates to around 110,000 people out of 263,000 working in aged care were yet to have their first COVID-19 vaccine shot.
According to the governments Health website all residential aged care workers are prioritised to receive the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, regardless of age.
However, the contentious and ambitious plan has been somewhat thwarted by the lack of availability and accessibility to either vaccine particularly for regional aged care facilities or their workers.
In the announcement the Prime Minister said an $11 million grant would be made available to aged care providers to cover leave for workers to get the jab, or for those suffering from side effects after their vaccine.
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