Health Minister Greg Hunt gave “the strongest possible encouragement” to residents and their families to reconsider decisions to refuse the vaccine, saying getting the vaccination will save lives.
A 99-year-old woman has tested positive for COVID-19, despite the fact she has received the first dose of the vaccine.
It has also become evident that aged care workers have continued to work between aged care sites, and there are questions over whether authorities acted quickly enough to restrict workers to the single site rule.
The minister was unable to confirm how many aged care staff had been vaccinated, despite the clear role staff play as vectors of the disease.
The government promised all aged care residents and staff would be vaccinated by the end of March, but months later there remain significant gaps in the vaccination coverage of these priority groups.
Three staff have also been confirmed to have contracted the virus.
On Sunday it was revealed that a member of staff at Arcare Maidstone had tested positive, and now another member of staff and the 90-year-old resident have also contracted the virus.
The resident has received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, but the second team member did not receive the first dose of the vaccine on May 12 because she was on personal leave the day vaccinations took place.
The two team members with the virus are also displaying mild symptoms and are recovering at home.
Worryingly, only 53 of the 76 residents at Arcare Maidstone have received one dose of the Pfizer vaccine, however, the remainder did not provide their consent and so did not receive the jab.
The second vaccine has been brought forward to be administered on May 31. Arcare said all staff at its Maidstone home are being offered their first or second vaccine dose today.
Residents will be self-isolating in their rooms and all staff are wearing full personal protective equipment (PPE).
Vaccine “the greatest protection”
At a press conference on Monday, it was revealed that 11 new COVID-19 cases were recorded in Victoria overnight.
Shorten: “They’re onto this”
Residents and staff at Arcare Maidstone are being closely monitored for symptoms, and a second round of testing will be carried out on June 1.
Arcare Maidstone is in the electorate of Shadow Government Services Minister, Bill Shorten, who said he was confident in the provider’s ability to cope with the outbreak.
“I think they’re right on to this, so my thoughts are with them and hopefully the patient can have their condition confirmed and treated perhaps at a hospital,” he said.
Staff to remain in rooms
A staff member at BlueCross Western Gardens residential aged care home also tested positive over the weekend.
The staff member last worked at BlueCross Western Gardens on May 28, when she was tested but returned a negative result.
The staff member later returned a positive test result.
According to a statement from BlueCross, the provider immediately implemented its COVID-19 outbreak management plan.
All residents at Western Gardens must now remain in their rooms and all staff will be wearing full PPE to support the residents.
Media reports in The Australian show cars lining up at BlueCross Western Gardens so staff members could be tested.
Staff limited to single location
The Department of Health issued a statement on May 31 reminding aged care workers to limit their work to a single facility during the current outbreak.
“This is another important measure in limiting the risk of transmission of COVID-19 between facilities to protect workers and residents,” the statement said.
Workers should work for the provider where they have the most hours.
If adding this coverage results in additional costs to the provider, then providers can seek reimbursement from the federal government through the Support for Aged Care Workers in COVID-19 (SACWIC) Grant.