“Political decision, not a health decision”: Nursing union’s concern over mandating vaccinations

Nursing union strikes back

A statement from the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) says that while it “strongly encourages” aged care nurses and carers to receive the COVID-19 vaccine, it is “concerned” that mandating vaccinations for the aged care workforce could be a “political decision, not a health decision”.

There is still confusion and insufficient detail about how mandatory vaccinations will be implemented for these workers, if there is enough supply of the vaccine, and the special paid leave assistance from the government only amounts to $30 per worker, according to the ANMF.

“The Morrison government’s promises for aged care just keep coming, but at this stage, there are more questions than answers,” said ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler.

“The critical issues now are access to vaccines and support for aged care staff,” she said.

The vaccine roll-out in private aged care homes has been “an absolute shambles,” Butler said. 

“We need guaranteed access to vaccines for all aged care workers and paid leave to support that access and management of any reactions they may experience.”

“We still don’t know how vaccinations will be mandated,” said Butler. “Will they access on-site where they work, or will they be forced to source their own?” 

The ANMF has written to the Prime Minister with 14 questions seeking clarity urgently:

  1. What education in relation to the vaccines and the announcement will be provided and disseminated to aged care staff?
  2. What vaccine will the Government make available to aged care staff and will they be offered a choice of vaccine?
  3. Will a workplace delivery program be provided or are staff to rely on existing services only to be vaccinated?
  4. What are the details of the grants for aged care facilities to support workers to receive the vaccine, and what measures will be in place to ensure the grants are used solely for that purpose? And, will the grants apply to both casual and permanent aged care staff?
  5. Will special paid leave be provided so that workers do not have to use personal leave for the vaccination and in the event they become unwell, as is available in several public health systems?
  6. In the event that an aged care worker suffers a major adverse event following vaccination, will they be covered by workers compensation?
  7. What evidence will need to be submitted in order to access the above initiatives?
  8. What impact will a vaccinated workforce have on the requirement for Single Site Employment directives to be issued into the future?
  9. What contingency plans are in place or will be put in place to care for residents in facilities, in the event a number of workers do not receive their first vaccination by the September deadline?
  10. Will the COVID-19 vaccine also be mandated for aged care residents, visitors and contractors?
  11. Does the announcement also apply to those aged staff who are providing in-home care under home care packages?
  12. What is to occur to those who may not have received their first vaccination by the September deadline? Are they to be stood down until they receive their vaccination or dismissed?
  13. What arrangements will be in place for those who have legitimate health reasons as to why the vaccine is contraindicated? Will they be dismissed?
  14. Will alternate work (other than direct resident care) within the facility be an option to standing down/dismissal that employers will be required to explore/provide?

Aged care workers need clarity, not only for their health, but for the wellbeing and safety of the vulnerable residents they care for.

What do you think about the 14 questions raised above for the Prime Minister, by ANMF Federal Secretary, Annie Butler? Share your thoughts below. 

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  1. This is just shamble. Sadly I am allergic on flu vaccination got pneumonia. Have been asking for help if I get sick I am very scared to get unwell. This is different injection I might need aspirate to ICU. However had asked vaccination staff got told that no such sickness is however all my staff are very sick temp 41 and limbs are not moving. So yet no body will immuniza me at work place and been told like this. There is not enough there is nothing here for you. I think this is bad to treat nurses this way. We will all walk out of this beautiful profession. Government is shamble no respect to staff or elderly. Lost few elderly to this stress is well. Now cutting nurses. Staff are so sick tired and we loose our job becouse if we had allergies we cannot feed our children. In first place who let elderly died last year it was government. Over it. Poor staff poor nurses and poor elderly.

  2. I think the questions are great, they are straight to the point and seem to ask for both sides of the fence.

  3. I don’t think anything of the 14 questions at all there should be no questions but a clear and concise no to mandatory COVD vaccinations. I do not agree with any staff having to undergo mandatory COVID vaccination to be able to work in aged care. If the union allows this to happen it means they are in the govt’s pocket.

    1. Compulsory medical status for employment is not at all new. There are lots of jobs where Hep A Hep C, Flu, Tetanus and other things are required.
      Some work requires frequent drug testing and some jobs are only available to non smokers due to patient/client allergies.

      I can remember not being able to visit some hospital wards without particular medical status.

      If a person is unable to have a vaccine, it may be time to look for a new job.

      Ignoring the safety needs of the people you work with, to suit yourself, is not good.

  4. It should be No No No to mandatory COVID vaccinations for staff. Never mind these 14 questions. Union should be for the workers. Workers themselves are responsible and most who are post wanting families etc will get the jab voluntarily. Everyone against this mandatory vaccination should be putting their comments here daily.

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