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Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations for Aged Care Workers: How it Works in Your State/Territory

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All states and territories except Victoria have issued orders officially making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for residential aged care workers from 17 September 2021. Victoria has indicated (at 2 September 2021) that it will be publishing the Chief Health Officer direction on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for residential aged care workers in the next week.

Among the state/territory orders there is much variation in how the requirements are expressed and the exemptions available. For full details of the orders in your state/territory, follow the links provided in the Department of Health’s webpage: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care.

In the meantime, here is a summary of the requirements in each state/territory.

 

Australian Capital Territory

The requirement

Workers

From 17 September 2021 a worker at a residential aged care facility must not enter or remain on the premises of a residential aged care facility in the Australian Capital Territory if they have not received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccination. There are also requirements for a worker to produce evidence of vaccination if directed to do so.

 

Operators

The operator of a residential aged care facility must take all reasonable steps to ensure that a person does not enter or remain on the premises of the residential aged care facility if the person is prohibited from doing so. There are also requirements for operators to keep vaccination records and protect them from loss or misuse.

As at 31 September 2021, there are no requirements in the ACT regarding a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Who does the requirement apply to?

The ACT requirement applies to “workers” or “staff members”. This means a person who has, or is reasonably likely to have, access to aged care residents; and is either:

  • employed, hired, retained or otherwise engaged directly by the operator of a residential aged care facility, to provide care or other services under the control of the residential aged care facility; or
  • is otherwise engaged by the residential aged care facility through a third party, for example an employment or recruitment agency, to provide care or other services under the control of the residential aged care facility.

The requirement also applies to some volunteers and some contractors. The ACT order provides a list of who is covered by the requirement and who is not. See More Information below for a link to the ACT order.

 

Exemptions

The ACT Chief Health Officer may exempt a person from the COVID-19 vaccination requirements. In particular, the Chief Health Officer may exempt a person because:

  • they are unable to receive the vaccine because of a medical condition
  • the vaccine is not available to the person.

Note: these exemptions are not automatic. They do not apply unless the ACT Chief Health Officer grants them in writing.

 

More information

To see the latest ACT order, follow the link provided in the Department of Health’s webpage: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care.

 

 

New South Wales

The requirement

Workers

From 17 September 2021, a worker must not enter or remain on the premises of a residential aged care facility unless the person has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. There are also requirements to provide evidence of vaccination if directed to do so.

 

Health practitioners and students

From 31 October 2021, a health practitioner or student must not enter or remain on the premises of a residential aged care facility unless the person has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. There are also requirements to provide evidence of vaccination if directed to do so.

 

Operators

Operators must take steps to ensure that workers, health practitioners and students comply with the requirements.

As at 31 September 2021, there are no requirements in NSW regarding a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

 

Who does the requirement apply to?

The requirement applies to:

  • an employee of the operator of the facility
  • a person who provides services for the facility or for residents of the facility under a contract or arrangement with any person (but note that the requirement does not apply to some contractors. See immediately below).

The requirement does not apply to:

  • a maintenance contractor
  • a person who provides services to a resident of the facility under a contract or arrangement with the resident
  • a student (until 31 October 2021 – then the requirement will apply to students on placement).

 

Exemptions

The COVID-19 vaccinations requirements do not apply to a person who:

  • is unable to be vaccinated a due to a medical contraindication (and has a medical certificate to prove it).
  • is entering the facility to respond to an emergency.

 

More information

To see the latest NSW order, follow the link provided in the Department of Health’s webpage: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care.

 

 

Northern Territory

The requirement

From 17 September, a person who is an officer, employee or contractor of an aged care facility must not enter or remain on the premises of the aged care facility if the person has not had the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

From 31 October, a person who is an officer, employee or contractor of an aged care facility must not enter or remain on the premises of the aged care facility if the person has not had the second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.

There are also requirements for a worker to produce evidence of vaccination, and requirements for operators to take measures to ensure compliance and to keep vaccination records.

 

Who does the requirement apply to?

The requirement applies to “a person who is an officer, employee or contractor of an aged care facility.” Those terms are not defined in the order.

 

Exemptions

The COVID-19 vaccination requirement only applies to a person if that person is “able to receive” the vaccination. This term is not defined in the order, but it is generally accepted that a person is not “able to receive” the vaccine if there is no vaccine available or they have a medical contraindication.

 

More information

To see the latest Northern Territory order, follow the link provided in the Department of Health’s webpage: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care.

 

Queensland

The requirement

Workers

By 16 September 2021, a residential aged care worker must not enter, engage in work or duties or provide services, at a residential aged care facility unless they have received at least one dose of an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

By 31 October 2021, a residential aged care worker must not enter, engage in work or duties or provide services, at a residential aged care facility unless:

  • they have received the full number of doses of an approved COVID-19 vaccine, or
  • they have evidence of a booking to receive the full number of doses.

There are also requirements for workers to provide evidence of vaccination, and there are vaccination requirements for health service workers that come into effect 31 October 2021.

There are also requirements for operators to ensure compliance and to keep vaccination records and protect them from loss or misuse.

 

Who does the requirement apply to?

The requirement applies to any “residential aged care worker”, which means any person:

  • employed or engaged by or on behalf of a residential aged care facility (whether as an employee, contractor or agency staff) to work in, perform duties or provide services at a residential aged care facility on a full time, part time or casual basis
  • a health service employee and a person engaged (whether as an employee, contractor or agency staff) to work in, perform duties or provide services at a Queensland Health residential aged care facility
  • a medical practitioner and allied health professional, including paramedics and emergency services staff, who regularly attends and provides care to residents of a residential aged care facility whether employed or engaged by the resident, residential aged care facility or another person.

This includes care workers, nurses, administrative staff, ancillary staff (e.g. food preparation, cleaning, maintenance), lifestyle and social care staff, transport drivers who drive residents, and volunteers who are engaged by the facility to undertake duties at the facility (but does not include volunteers who are engaged personally by a resident).

 

Exemptions

The COVID-19 vaccinations requirements do not apply to a person who:

  • is unable to access the vaccine and is needed at the facility for practical reasons such as a workforce shortage
  • has a medical contraindication (and a certificate to prove it)
  • is entering the facility to provide immediately necessary care in an emergency
  • is entering the facility for a personal visit (not as a worker).

 

More information

To see the latest Queensland order, follow the link provided in the Department of Health’s webpage: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care.

 

 

South Australia

The requirement

From 17 September 2021, a person must not engage in work or duties at a registered aged care facility unless:

  • the person has received at least one dose of a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) approved COVID-19 vaccine.

If the person has received only one dose, they must also provide evidence of a booking to receive a second dose or they will not be allowed to work at the facility.

 

Who does this requirement apply to?

The requirement is broad and applies to anyone who works or performs duties at a residential aged care facility, including:

  • employees, contractors and agency staff
  • full-time, part-time and casual workers
  • direct care workers
  • administrative staff
  • ancillary staff (food preparation, cleaning, laundry, garden, maintenance)
  • lifestyle/social care (music/art therapy)
  • drivers
  • volunteers
  • students on placement
  • medical practitioners and allied health professionals.

 

Exemptions

A person may work at a facility after 17 September 2021 despite not having received their first does of a COVID-19 vaccine if:

  • the person has a medical exemption or is pregnant AND provides a medical certificate as evidence; or
  • the person has received a “temporary exemption” from an “authorised officer”.

An “authorised officer” means one of the senior officers in the South Australian Department of Health. These officers may issue a “temporary exemption” to a person if they decide that the person’s work is necessary at the facility and it is not currently possible for the person to access a COVID-19 vaccine.

 

More information

To see the latest South Australian order, follow the link provided in the Department of Health’s webpage: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care.

 

 

Tasmania

The requirement

Workers

From 17 September 2021, workers are not permitted to enter, or remain on, the premises of a residential aged care facility unless the person is “sufficiently vaccinated” against COVID-19.

A person is “sufficiently vaccinated” if:

  • they have received all necessary doses of the vaccine; or
  • they have received one dose and provide evidence of a booking to receive a second dose as soon as reasonably possible.

Workers must provide evidence of vaccination.

 

Operators

Operators must immediately notify staff of their upcoming obligations to get vaccinated. From 17 September 2021, operators must take steps to ensure that unvaccinated workers do not enter the facility, and must keep vaccination records and provide them to the relevant authorities if requested.

 

Who does the requirement apply to?

The COVID-19 vaccination requirements apply to:

  • persons employed, or engaged, by or on behalf of the residential aged care facility, regardless of whether consideration is paid or payable for the employment or engagement
  • persons undertaking a clinical placement, or work experience, at the residential aged care facility
  • persons employed, or engaged, by or on behalf of the residential aged care facility, to provide services, other than maintenance services, in respect of the residential aged care facility or one or more residents of the residential aged care facility, regardless of whether consideration is paid or payable for the employment or engagement.

 

Exemptions

The COVID-19 vaccination requirements do not apply to a person if the person:

  • has a medical contraindication (and the certificate to prove it)
  • is ineligible for vaccination due to their age.

 

More information

To see the latest Tasmanian order, follow the link provided in the Department of Health’s webpage: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care.

 

Victoria

The Victorian Department of Health and Human Services has indicated (at 2 September 2021) that it will be publishing the Chief Health Officer direction on mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for residential aged care workers in the next week.

 

Western Australia

The requirement

Workers

From 17 September 2021, a residential aged care facility worker must not enter, or remain at, a residential aged care facility if the worker has not been vaccinated against COVID-19. This requirement only applies if the worker is present at the residential aged care facility in their capacity as a residential aged care facility worker (i.e, if the worker is at the facility for non-work reasons, such as visiting a family member, the requirement does not apply).

A worker must produce evidence of vaccination if directed to do so by an emergency officer or required to do so by their employer/the person in charge of the facility. They must produce the evidence in the form approved by the Chief Health Officer.

 

Operators

The owner, occupier or person apparently in charge of a residential aged care facility must:

  • collect and maintain a record of the vaccination status of each of their workers
  • on request, provide these records to an emergency officer as soon as practicable after the request is made
  • use and disclose the records only in accordance with the law
  • protect the records from misuse, loss and unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.

 

Who does this requirement apply to?

The requirements apply to any person who provides goods or services at a residential aged care facility and is employed or otherwise engaged by the owner/operator of the residential care facility or by third party such as a labour hire firm. This includes:

  • direct care workers, including nurses, personal care workers, allied health professionals and allied health assistants
  • administrative staff
  • ancillary staff, including cleaners, laundry staff, gardeners, food preparation services and maintenance
  • persons providing lifestyle and social care, including music or art therapy
  • transport drivers who transport residents of the residential aged care facility for the purposes of outings
  • a person who provides services in connection with:
    • the Transition Care Programme
    • the Short Term Restorative Care Programme
    • the Multi-Purpose Services Programme
    • the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Programme
    • Respite care

but only to the extent that those services are being provided at the residential aged care facility

  • a person who provides health, medical, pharmaceutical or allied health services to a resident of the residential aged care facility
  • a student who is on a placement at a residential aged care facility as a formal part of their education
  • an ambulance officer.

The mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements apply to any of the above people, whether they are paid employees or volunteers – unless they qualify as “ad hoc volunteers”.

The mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements do not apply to “ad hoc volunteers”. An “ad hoc volunteer” is someone who volunteers “no more than once per week”.

 

Exemptions

The following people are exempt from the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements:

  • a worker with a medical exemption (and who can provide proof of their medical exemption)
  • a worker with a temporary exemption (this is a special exemption set by the Western Australian Chief Health Officer, who is also known as the “Emergency Officer”)
  • a person at the facility to perform a law enforcement function or legal duty
  • a person at the facility to respond to an emergency in a capacity other than as an ambulance officer (e.g. firefighting).

Any of the following “in-reach service providers or contractors” are exempt unless they are “employed or otherwise engaged by the owner/operator of the residential care facility” (i.e., if the service provider is self-employed or employed by an agency or labour hire firm, they are exempt and do not have to be vaccinated. But if the service provider is directly employed by the aged care facility, they are not exempt and must be vaccinated):

  • a delivery driver or person providing one-off trade deliveries
  • a tradesperson
  • a hairdresser
  • a pastoral care worker or clergy, including a resident's personal Minister/clergy/pastoral care worker
  • a librarian
  • a solicitor
  • an AN-ACC/ACAT/RAS assessor
  • an Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission Field staff member
  • an Aged Care Advocate delivering the National Aged Care Advocacy Program (OPAN Members).

 

More information

To see the latest Western Australian order, follow the link provided in the Department of Health’s webpage: Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination in residential aged care.

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