Mar 27, 2020

Staff & Visitors Who Refuse Flu Vaccination Will Not Enter Nursing Homes

As the transmission of COVID-19 continues to increase across the globe, those working in aged care stand as one of the last bastions of hope for protecting and supporting elderly and vulnerable Australians from this disease.

Aged care providers in Australia have done an outstanding job of preventing the spread of the virus thus far, with many taking it upon themselves to tighten infection control protocols and mitigate risk by limiting visitors.

Yet despite all their hard work combating this pandemic, the threat of an upcoming flu season looms as another monumental challenge for aged care providers whose resources are already stretched beyond belief.

One of the greatest defences that providers have against the spread of influenza is vaccinations.

Although aged care providers have previously been asked to keep records of staff and volunteers who received influenza vaccinations every year, they did not have the power to stand-down staff members who were not vaccinated against the flu – until now.

From 1 May 2020, anyone entering a residential aged care facility will be required to provide appropriate evidence of flu vaccination.

A statement provided to HelloCare from the Department of Health revealed the kind of evidence that visitors and aged care staff members will need to provide.

“Residential aged care providers should seek appropriate evidence of immunisation status from individuals seeking to enter the service.

“Appropriate evidence may be a statement or record from a health practitioner, or an immunisation history statement available from Medicare Online or the Express Plus Medicare mobile app.

“Each state and territory requires that persons must not enter or remain on premises of residential aged care facilities if they do not have an up-to-date (ie. 2020) vaccination against influenza, if such a vaccination is available to them.”

“Tasmania and New South Wales do allow some exemptions to these requirements. Residential aged care providers may otherwise need to redeploy staff that are not able to be vaccinated.”

With all of this focus on the vaccination of both staff and visitors to aged care homes, it’s important to note that while residents are encouraged to get flu vaccinations, they do still have the right to refuse.

Anti-Vaxx or Anti-Facts?

After a horror flu season in 2017 that resulted in the deaths of over 1,100 Australians, the Turnbull government legislated that every aged care facility be required by law to offer influenza vaccination to their staff.

A government-led push to raise awareness of vaccinations and the subsequent increase in the number of people being vaccinated resulted in an astounding drop to only 57 recorded deaths from influenza in Australia the following year.

Experts believed that the massive drop in recorded flu cases in 2018 was the catalyst for a relaxed attitude towards vaccination in 2019 which resulted in an alarmingly steep increase to over 900 deaths in 2019.

Influenza expert, Professor Michael Woodward AM, sat down recently with HelloCare and explained why high vaccination rates prevent the spread of the flu.

“Flu kills more people each year than almost all infectious diseases- even more, so far, than COVID-19. Indeed, the so-called “Spanish Flu” of 2018 killed up to 100 million people,” said Professor Woodward.

“We have effective vaccines for both health care workers and older residents – and if we achieve an adequate vaccination rate – close to 100% is best – we can prevent flu.”

“The last thing we want is to get both flu and COVID-19, or to have flu but have to be treated as if we have COVID-19.”

Media coverage of the coronavirus pandemic has set the internet ablaze with public opinions regarding infection control and the validity of medical advice regarding infectious disease.

An alarming number of aged care staff have taken to their keyboards to declare that they avoid flu vaccination, with some even vowing to avoid vaccination this year.

While anti-vaccine sentiments are more commonly thought of in regards to children’s vaccines, Professor Woodward did not mince words when describing those who are opposed to influenza vaccination.

This sad train of thought is not based on science and essentially leads to people dying, or being killed through contact with infected others.”

“We can believe in fiction – as sadly do many – or believe in science.”

Should Standing Up, Result In Being Stood Down?

While Professor Woodward was adamant that staff members who refuse to be vaccinated should be stood down, Member of the Immunisation Coalition Scientific Advisory Committee, Associate Professor John Litt AM, doesn’t think that standing staff down is the answer.

“My personal belief is to not mandate the vaccine but provide a range of options,” said Professor Litt.

Professor Litt then went on to outline a number of ideas that could encourage staff to get vaccinated, as he believes that the most who refuse to vaccinate do so out of a lack of information and availability, rather than anti-vaccine beliefs.

“Good information, easy access to the vaccine, exploring and addressing concerns, wearing a mask for the flu season, and offering free flu vaccine,” said Professor Litt

“The number who do not get the flu vaccine is likely to be quite small (eg 20%). Very few of these are what we would call ‘anti-vaxxers’ (because) they are happy to have many of the other recommended vaccines, just not influenza vaccine.”

Further information on the requirements regarding influenza vaccination can be found on the Department of Health website here and here.

Photo courtesy of iStock – credit – SDI Productions

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  1. Please explain the following:
    – typically how many variants of influenza are circulating in any one season?
    – how many variants can a given vaccine address?
    – how long does it take to produce a vaccine for a particular variant?
    – how can it EVER be made sure that any given flu vaccine will address ONE of the variants circulating in the present season?
    Please quantify the results of the questions above to give the odds of any flu vaccine addressing a present-season variant.
    Science should be about quantifying effectiveness, and not saying ‘one size fits all’.

    1. I have never had a flu injection and I don’t intend to start now. I have never had the flu and seldom get a cold. My 90 year old mother is in aged care and I believe I will be forced to have one if I wish to visit her. It is my right to refuse a flu injection on the grounds I have an auto immune problem, how do I stand on this.

      1. Yes I feel the same too, why should a person who doesn’t catch flu or colds be subjected to the flu vac. I would definitely have a flu vac if I am susceptible to flu but I am not. It will be eroding my rights if I am forced to have a flu vac.

      2. I have not had a flu injection for over 8yrs. My mother is in an Aged Care Facility turning 90 on Friday. It’s like blackmail, making you have the injection to see your family

        1. Im in the same boat, I work in aged care so am being restricted to some jobs and my mother is in care…who by the way is also refusing the vaccination. I am immune compromised and really dont want this forced upon me.

        2. Depends what is more important to you, your mother or your lack of education on flu vaccinations. “I have never had the flu and seldom get a cold”. If a person really does have an auto immune disorder, then they are more at risk of dying from influenza complications.

          1. Unfortunately I am not “misinformed” My mother is in aged care so I had the 2020 flu vaccination. I have never been so sick in my life for over 10 months after the injection! Cold after cold after cold about once a fortnight! I am only in the last month starting to get better as the jab wears off…. The over 65 jab has 4 times the dose and I have suffered so much, the thought of going through another year like the last one fills me with anxiety.

          2. @Jenny, you really need to educate yourself and stop being a sheep following the herd. If the residents are also vaccinated why does everyone else need their rights taken away also?
            This is disgraceful behaviour that is being forced upon us by the government and big pharma!

      3. I believe you can go to the Doctor and get a medical certificate. If you are allergic to Chicken or eggs, you can have adverse reaction to the flu vaccination. I wish someone told me this, when I got the flu vaccination and got a severe flu with it. I am also a carrier of auto-immune. You can try to send this to the Aged care where your Mother is staying and hope for the best. I am in the same predicament and going to try it this way. All the best, I really hope you get to see your Mum soon. We have the right to choose, what we want to inject in our bodies. 🙂

        1. @Tanali, Is that your best response? No wonder Murdoch mass media & Gover-ment pharma puppets and all of their BS has some foothold in the mind of the sea of trusting, sheep-to-slaughter individuals. But times are changing.

          1. I agree Clint… so many sheep following the rest and not doing any research.

    2. I can believe this is law. As from May 1st the government will never allow me to visit my mum in a nursing home because I don’t have a flu jab.

      1. Get y our Mum to come out – or get her to come out. You on one side of the fence, her either coming right out, or on the nursing home side of the fence. Maybe pick a dry, rain-less day! All the best!

      1. This does not show the law it is illegal to force vaccinations and to with hold visitation is just crap there is no way I would get a vaccine to visit a relative I would like to know if anyone is challenging this in court?

        1. Hi Janice, G&B Lawyers in Sydney are challenging this & are helping people get into aged care homes to visit their loved ones. You can speak with Nathan Buckley…. They can be found on Facebook or search Google. There is also a Class Action starting, if you like any further information please let me know. We all need to remember that silence is consent. Our freedoms are being taken away.

          1. Hi
            My father is in nursing home in Melbourne and my mother and I are not allowed to visit my father because we do not have flu vaccine.
            I never had flu vaccine because I am allergic to many things. As a child I had anaphylactic shock from tetanus vaccine, and almost died. Was in hospital for weeks. From then on I rarely had any vaccine.
            My mother also had reaction from the flu vaccine while she was living overseas and now she is refusing the flu shot.
            We had letter from the doctor explaining this and sent to the nursing home, but they do not accept flu exemption. This is their reply “ Unfortunately the certificate does not meet the exemption criteria which is to be in line with the contraindications immunisation handbook.”

            I do not know what to do, and I feel very angry and hopeless.

  2. My mother is in aged care, myself and my 2 daughters are the only visitors she has , I have never had a flu shot and don’t like the idea of being made to do something that takes away my choice to decide what I put in my body
    I definitely do not want to take anything into the nursing home that would make any resident ill but I’m not happy with what is now happening

    1. I am in the same situation. Never had the flu, I am super healthy but it has been 7 weeks since I have seen my Mum in Aged Care. I do t like being forced into something I don’t believe in.

    2. We haven’t ever had a flu vac . I also haven’t been able to see my mum for about 6 weeks and now this enforcing of flu vaccine is just not right. There must be a legal avenue to take with this

  3. I have requested the scientific evidence proving the safety and efficacy of the flu vaccination but there is none provided to me so far. I did my own research as I believed that it should be safe if we are being forced to have it. The influenza vaccine package insert states it is NOT TESTED for carcinogenic affects, genotoxicity, male fertility, and no safety studies done for pregnant and lactating mothers. In addition there are a huge list of side effects, with some of them being very serious and could even result in death. My organisation stated they are not taking liability in case of illness, disease, injury or death caused by the influenza vaccine. If this is a totally safe and effective vaccine then someone should be willing to be liable if the person is being forced to have it.

    Please not at this stage this is a TEMPORARY status of enforced flu vaccination, as per the legislation that I was provided with. Most aged care homes are not allowing people to visit right now anyway, so there is no need to take the injection until you need to if you wish to do so. In addition the legislation says you need to have had the flu vaccine if it is available to you.

    1. Great to know about the efficacy of the flu vaccination – thanks for your research Krissy. Why am I not surprised we’re sold something that isn’t what people think it is. My body, my health, not having a flu vaccination. What people should talk more about is the *Science around how our bodies can develop antibodies to fight dis-ease and more information on preventative and proactive health management. Thing is, too many people in the world are lazy and it’s easier for them to believe the BS flu vaccination helps them rather than taking responsibility for their diet, exercise and health.

  4. I am in the same situation. Never have flu shots, don’t get the flu.(noT STUPID ENOUGH TO VISIT IF I AM SICK!) It’s being forced to get it that is wrong. Yes all staff and residents should have them. My two children are his only grandchildren but even if I have to which I’ll fight, my kids won’t be having them therefore my Dad will go down hill quicker as he won’t ever see them again.

  5. l am also in this situation, never had flu or even a cold in my adult life. There is exemptions for this on the government website. if you are religious or for culture reasons you could be exempt from having flu vaccination, this is for staff as well and obviously for residence if they can refuse to have it. l agree with the comments above,doesn’t make sense if we are not allowed in if we are not well.

    1. Leanne sadly they changed the legislation regarding religious beliefs. They have certainly covered their tracks to screw us.

  6. I am not allowed to visit my 99 yr old father .my Mother has just passed away And he is very sad.
    Because I don’t do flu injections the govt is controlling what I can do.
    I have never had the flu and am not going to be jabbed by the powerful money making pharmaceutical co and govt..
    This is outrageous

  7. I don’t like having the ultimatum of having to get a flu shot or you can’t visit your relative in aged. Would any visitor knowingly enter an aged care facility with symptom that could potentially make their loved one ill. I don’t think so. I’m not anti-vaccine just anti unnecessary vaccine.

  8. What do we do if we don’t want the flu shot to visit our loved ones in a nursing home? Can this legislation be actually legal to stop a person visiting their parent in a nursing home. It’s like living in a communist country. I’ve written to the minister of health but no reply. Don’t we have basic human rights and we should not be forced into have a flu jab. Surely the wearing of a mask should be allowed. Nobody goes and visits if you are sick. This is such a cruel legislation. I’m not an anti Vaxer just don’t do flu jabs.

  9. If most of the residents in care homes are vaccinated anyway, why do visitors need a flu jab? This is a ridiculously heavy-handed law. I guess the government will tell itself that no-one died of flu, but there will be many residents who now die of loneliness.

    1. Hi Siobhan unfortunately this is another example where Big Pharma controls not just the medical universities, the profession itself, but also our governments. This is a test case of course for forcing the general pop to take other forms of unnecessary vaccines in the near future. imagine the soon to come time when you cannot shop, bank, work without first having a vaccine….It’s coming.

    2. Good on you for raising the issue of vaccination for residents, rather than people entering the facility including staff, tradespeople and visitors. If the vaccine is so effective, shouldn’t the most vulnerable (the residents) have mandatory flu vaccines. The residents would be unable to contract the flu as they have been vaccinated. Millions of dollars saved in vaccinating everyone could be put to better use by going towards research for dementia and help reduce the number of elderly in aged care in the first place.

    3. Siobhan, this has been my argument exactly! My mother is a nursing home and I haven’t seen her in 9-weeks. In that time, her sister passed away and it’s my mum’s birthday next week and of course mother’s day on the weekend. I’m allowed to see my mother on her birthday at the front gate/driveway for up to 30-minutes at a distance to give her a present. Does this mean that because I have adverse reactions to vaccines and also that I object to having chemicals injected into my body unwillingly, that I will never be able to visit my mother again?

    4. A very dear friend is in aged care with MS and things are not looking good. I have health issues and haven’t had flu shot last couple of years, seems my friend will die alone 🙁

  10. I also have been researching, emails etc and each just provide a million links and information. All departments seem to push responsibility to another, even Government Health push back to State Health. A document dated 16th April Care Facilities Directions (2) from the Deputy Chief Health Officer states dates 16th April to 11th May applies to. Suddenly departments saying 1st May on only, no time frames. But these only info sheets and guidelines, not mandates aged homes mention. No departments will give clear answers or clear proof as to what is mandatory law versus the information of Facility directions info. Emailed an Aged Care Minister to clarify facts,but no reply !!

  11. Visitors must be vaccinated yet residents and staff have the right to refuse? Did I read this correctly? The reason why the flu vaccine failed a few years ago was because it was a faulty vaccine. The flu vaccine was less effective, that’s why so many got ill and died. My friend always has the flu vaccine. That year she almost died and ended up in ICU and the family were called in the early hours. Fortunately, she survived but is still dealing with the negative health after-effects. It was the vaccine that failed that year.

  12. Discuss these tests with your GP
    serology test – this will tell you if you already have the antibodies, if you have the antibodies you dont need the flu injection
    Check your cytokine levels – Depending on your situation you may want to check your cytokine levels to see if the flu injection will make you sick or if you can have a bad reaction to it.

  13. I concur with the first comment from Leigh that there is no ‘one size fits all’ with flu vaccinations as there are different strains each year and therefore one vaccine is not a guarantee of preventing flu.The main problem is that manufacturers, working months ahead of flu season fail to correctly guess which strains will end up spreading each year. In practice the influenza vaccine teaches the body to produce antibodies against the head of the virus’s surface protein,hemagglutinin (HA). Those antibodies ideally prevent HA from attaching to cellular receptors, thwarting infection. But HA’s head is highly mutable, which is why vaccine makers must come up with a new formula every year. As such, introducing such legislation during a time when our loved ones are most vulnerable prompts me to warn that move this is only a sample case for when the BIG pharmaceutical companies push to have all the world routinely vaccinated for something, albeit against our freedoms. Imagine a time soon when individuals will no longer be permitted work, learn, shop, bank or even enjoy social recreation without proof of a current vaccination. who do you think is driving this?… Petition your local MP to voice your concern is all we can do for now, but doubt they will hear reason because Big Pharma runs the show now.

  14. The increasing legislated constraints on society regarding the consequences for not being immunised surely have reached a non-sensical level with this national requirement re nursing homes (following the huge impact on the child-care and education systems) given the mountain of scientific documentation showing the potential harm from vaccination and the need for further research.

    If the scientific data is not sufficient to at least suggest this need to legislators, perhaps some-one, somewhere, will ask why the US National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) has paid out almost US$900 million (US Court of Federal Claims) for all injuries and death from just seasonal influenza vaccines (for shoulder injury, Guillain-Barre syndrome, transverse myelitis, chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and death) since 2003, and that there are currently 2000 claims awaiting review or decision, a 100% increase in the past 12 months.
    Ref: –

  15. This is total control of peoples rights. Decronian law that denies the right of a Son or Daughter to visit their Mother, Father, Aunty, Uncle or any other relative they may have in a nursing home. Flu injections are filled with so much bad stuff that can make people real sick at the time of the injection and some peoples lives are destroyed for many years after. That aside it is the control that is the saddest part of this so called law and I feel sad for all members of families who are denied their God given right to visit their loved ones.

  16. Hello to all that have commented, I am in the same boat as you all, my mother is in aged care and deteriorating daily, she will not pass from corona or the flu but from a broken heart, by not being able to see her children, yet from us not having the flu shot if she passes we have to live with it. if there is any way we can all do something together with this I am open to it. I am not injecting mercury and formaldehyde into my body. We all need to have a voice, If anyone has ideas on how to do this please let me know.

    1. Hi Lisa,I’m in the same situation as well.i Cared for my Grandma for 7 years she is 94 and seeing her every day to not seeing her now its been 8 weeks and now possibly they are saying NO flue shot No visiting so I never get to see her. I REFUSE to have that poison injected into my body as well. I rarely get sick I just don’t know what to do.Im so sad im scared that she may forget me and my girls its just NOT RIGHT.

    2. Hi Lisa, I had the flu shot last year for the first time because my mum was going into a nursing home. I have been so sick since, with a cold over once a fortnight. I am just getting better in the last month since the shot is wearing off and it fills me with anxiety to think I may have to have it again and suffer all year… I am at my wits end. My doctor has refused to give me an exemption even though when I have a cold I have difficulty breathing while I sleep as I have sleep apnea.

  17. Prof. Woodward is a dictator

    Compulsory vaccination is foul. I have always been against it!
    I haven’t had flu or colds for 35yrs! I don’t need a flu jab to protect me or anyone else!

    Does that dictator Woodward have any idea what goes on in aged care homes?

    Typically residents have few visitors in the course of a week.. many have none from what I’ve observed.

    Visitors don’t mix with any other residents or much interaction with staff even.

    Visitors confine themselves to the resident’s room & then leave.

    Most residents are confined to their own rooms, I rarely even SEE other residents – let alone walk past them in communal areas.

    You need to proof read – Spanish Flu was 1918 not 2018

  18. I see I’m not the only one in this predicament. I’m 72 myself, had the flu twice in my life time. Mum is 92 with Alzheimer’s. I can not visit her any more as I won’t be blackmailed into doing something I have never done, nor want to do. This does not bode well for our future rights to decide on whether we want poison injected into us. . One good thing is, the flu injection is no longer in your body after 6 months, so there should be no problem with us visiting our loved ones then.

    1. Hi Linda, I am in the same boat, I got the flu injection last year as mum was just going into a nursing home, she has dementia. I have been so sick since getting the flu shot, a cold over once a fortnight, which has never happened to me before. I have just been getting better in the last couple of months. Unfortunately the over 65 jab has 4 times the dose!!

  19. My husband and myself do not have the flu vaccine which is our choice to force us to have in in order to visit my husbands Mother in age care is only going to affect her mental health as she is a widow with only one child. Surely if all age care residents are vaccinated they would be protected.

  20. Like so many others here, I find myself in the same situation, not willing or able to have the flu shot due to immune health issues and my 93 year old mother locked away in a nursing home with dementia. I have not had a cold or flu for 12 years since giving up working with children. Being separated from your loved ones by the government red tape is a shocking state of affairs. I am hoping that the flu shot will no longer be compulsory after this winter is over.

    1. Unfortunately Peter, I did get the jab in 2020 as my Mum was going into a nursing home. Ever since having the flu vaccine, I have been sick with cold symptoms more than once a fortnight, I have been so sick! I also suffer from Sleep apnea and breathe with great difficulty when I have cold symptoms. In the last couple of months I have been getting better as the vaccine is wearing of. The over 65 jab has 4 times the dose!!

  21. Peter the intelligent one- worthy of an award for biggest smart a of the year. Good onya young Pete!! In exactly the same situation and it is so wrong.

  22. R. Hi Doc, is that vaccination safe?
    D. Yes, we now have a complete knowledge of the immune system now, so it is safe!
    R. Great, then you can fix my autoimmune disease as well?!
    D. Errr, no. We can’t fix any of those yet.
    R. Why not?
    D. Ummm….
    R. Can you at least stop me getting a simple cold this year?
    D. Ouch, not really.

  23. So, I can pick up and take out my 98 year old friend who has the flu shot to shopping centres, cafes anywhere really where humans exist. Potentially exposing him to someone that has a cold or flu type symptoms. He may catch it and take it back to the aged care facility.

    But, myself who is healthy, not showing any flu symptoms (I have had the flu, possibly twice in 15 years, and my immune system worked accordingly and did the job it was designed to do) so I ‘got over it.’ I will wear a mask because they expect me to, will not visit if I am unwell…and will get my temperature checked before entry, CANNOT VISIT a lonely old man in his room within THE AGED CARE PRISON!!

    As my Dr said, I need a lawyer.
    Any lawyers with compassion and logic want to help, without charging the earth?

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