One-third of aged care workers remain completely unvaccinated, according to the latest data from the Department of Health, raising concerns about the workforce’s ability to meet the looming September 17 mandatory vaccine deadline.
Age care providers have informed the Department of Health about the vaccine status of 278,268 of their workforce, revealing only two-thirds (67%) of workers have received the first jab and less than half (46%) are fully vaccinated.
The low take-up rate underscores the difficulty in getting people vaccinated.
The alarming data comes less than a month out from the September 17 deadline, and two months after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the vaccine would be mandatory.
When announcing the decision, Morrison promised monitoring to ensure there wasn’t a “mass exodus” of staff from the sector, an acknowledgement the decision could be controversial.
Since then, the Committee for Economic Development of Australia has assessed that Australia’s aged care sector will need at least 110,000 extra workers over the next decade, and by 2050 will need more than 400,000 workers.
Any loss of workers from the sector at this point would be deeply concerning.
Yet, the vaccine uptake data for aged care workers suggests some workers will leave the sector as a result of mandatory vaccines.
On Monday, the government issued aged care providers with an information kit to help them overcome vaccine hesitancy among workers, and to promote ways for aged care staff to get vaccinated as quickly and safely as possible.
The campaign included a new video featuring vaccinated aged care workers.
All residential aged care workers, regardless of their age, have been given priority access to the Pfizer vaccine, and vaccines are available through on-site vaccination clinics, GPs, Commonwealth vaccination clinics (GP respiratory clinics), Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services and pharmacies.
While some aged care workers will be vaccinated through their place of work, others will organise their vaccines themselves. The government is strongly encouraging these aged care workers to notify their employers when they are vaccinated.
Following are details for where aged care workers can be vaccinated in each state.
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
HelloCare contacted the Department of Health at the time of publishing this article, but had not received a response.