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Mandatory COVID-19 Vaccinations for Aged Care Workers – Latest Update

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It’s now been over a month since the Prime Minister announced that COVID-19 vaccinations would become mandatory for residential aged care workers.

What has happened since then? When do the requirements come into force and what exactly will they involve? Today we give you the latest updates along with links to help you stay up to date.

 

Overview

  • Currently (2 August 2021) residential aged care workers are not required to have a COVID-19 vaccination.
  • However, all States/Territories except Victoria have expressed an intention to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for all residential aged care workers from 17 September 2021.
  • As at 2 August 2021, this is an intention only; no laws have been made.
  • If the laws are made: from 17 September 2021 workers in all States/Territories except Victoria will not be allowed to work in a residential care home unless they have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Victoria has indicated that it might not make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for residential aged care workers.
  • The requirement will apply only to residential aged care workers, not home care workers.

 

Department of Health says all workers must have a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by 17 September 2021

According to the Department of Health: “From 17 September 2021, COVID-19 vaccination will be mandatory for all residential aged care workers. Residential aged care workers will be required to have received a minimum first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by this time.”

 

However, this is not yet a legal requirement (as at 2 August 2021)

As at 2 August 2021 there is no legal requirement for aged care workers to have a COVID-19 vaccination. Here’s what’s happened so far: the Federal and State/Territory leaders met at the National Cabinet and announced that they will work towards imposing mandatory vaccines. The official press release says:

 

“National Cabinet reaffirmed the commitment to implement the decision to mandate vaccination of aged care workers by mid-September 2021, with limited exceptions. All states and territories will work toward implementing this decision using state public health orders or similar state and territory instruments, and will provide an indication of timing when it is available. This is consistent with the approach taken for mandating influenza vaccinations for aged care workers.”

 

This means that right now (2 August 2021), COVID-19 vaccinations are not mandatory. They will not become mandatory until the States/Territories issue new public health directions. As at 2 August 2021, none of the States/Territories has issued such a direction.

However, the National Cabinet announcement suggests that all States/Territories except Victoria (see below) will issue these directions sometime soon.

 

Victoria has indicated it might not make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory

Some commentators have suggested that Victoria is opting not to impose mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for aged care workers. The National Cabinet press release merely says, “In Victoria, a decision on mandating COVID-19 vaccinations for aged care workers rests with the Chief Health Officer.”

 

Details of the vaccination requirement are currently unavailable

As noted above, all we have at the moment is an expressed intention to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for residential aged care workers. So far, none of the States/Territories has actually issued a law to that effect. So we do not have any details on how such a requirement would work.

 

How can I stay up to date?

If/when the requirements are issued, they will be issued via Public Health orders, declarations of the Chief Health Officer or the equivalent. Below are the key websites you can use to stay up to date in your State/Territory. Remember to check them regularly because the situation can change rapidly.

 

ACT

ACT Public Health Directions

Advice for visitors to aged care facilities

 

NSW

Chief Health Officer advice to residential aged care facilities

 

NT

Chief Health Officer Directions (see “Directions for Aged Care Facilities”)

Residential Aged Care Advice

 

Qld

Residential Aged Care Directions

 

SA

Residential Aged Care Facilities Directions

 

Tas

Aged care facility visitor restrictions

 

Vic

Aged care sector - COVID-19

 

WA

COVID-19 information for aged care and community care providers


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