Will family members of aged care workers require vaccination too?

Family wearing masks walking

With aged care workers often a key link between the community and aged care residents, combined with the highly infectious nature of the Delta strain now circulating in Australia, the decision was widely anticipated and welcomed in most quarters.

Epidemiologist and advisor to the World Health Organisation (WHO) on COVID-19, Mary Louise McLaws, told HelloCare the flu vaccine is compulsory for aged care workers, so it was “logical” the COVID-19 vaccine would be too.

“We’ve had over 600 deaths in the outbreaks in residential aged care facilities last year. No one wants that on their conscience,” McLaws said. 

The only way to prevent an aged care worker being a conduit to residents, and to other staff and colleagues, is to be as “risk reduced” as possible, and that means being vaccinated.

McLaws said it was well-known that vaccines were likely to become mandatory for aged care workers, and providers could have urged those who did not wish to be vaccinated to find roles without resident contact.

Many aged care workers are distressed that the vaccine has been made mandatory, and we have received many questions on HelloCare’s pages.

Reader question: Should family members of aged care staff be vaccinated too?

A great question that has been put forward is, ‘Whether family members of [aged care] staff will require vaccination too, considering they are our closest contacts and are out in public daily?’

The question is particularly pertinent considering the Delta strain now usually infects all household members once one person contracts the illness.

McLaws said the Delta strain is “known to be able to allude … diagnostic tests” and is “faster and fitter” than the other variants.

It spreads more quickly and across greater distances than the other variants too. 

McLaws said members of aged care worker households did not necessarily have to be vaccinated, but if they wanted to be “it’s good”. She said they should be given priority when it comes to being vaccinated, but they do not carry the same degree of risk as aged care workers.

Regarding concerns that household members who are out in the community could then pass on the virus to an aged care worker who could then carry it into an aged care home, “they won’t if that aged care worker is vaccinated,” said McLaws.

She said the risk of an aged care worker infecting household members was small, the risk generally being the other way, from the community to the aged care worker, and then into the aged care home.

“The mandatory vaccine is to stop community COVID-19 going into a very cloistered group who are only at risk from visitors and staff because of that very close working relationship with them, where they’re picking them up, they’re dressing them, they’re feeding them, or they’re just around looking after them in a peripheral manner,” said McLaws.

What do you think? Should family members of aged care workers be vaccinated too? Share your thoughts below. 

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  1. if family members of aged care workers are made to have the covid shot then also residents family members and any visitors that enter a facility

    1. Agree So should Doctors, Physiotherapist, Allied Health Workers, Family and Friends who visit,Nurses at Hospitals, because elderly go to Hospital in some cases.
      Organizations staff members
      We all need to get Vaccinated ?

  2. Anyone and everyone dealing with vulnerable elderly people should be vaccinated against Covid and had the flu shot. I have to show proof of both to do volunteer work at an aged care facility.
    Whilst we haven’t had a case of Covid here in Tasmania since May last year, I still get tested monthly as, apart from my volunteer work, my wife works in aged care and I wouldn’t want it on my conscience that I may have been responsible for transferring it.

  3. This is not a comment on the above but another question. What would be considered a medical exemption for not being mandating the COVD-19 vaccine.

  4. As an Aged Care RN I’ve had one Pfizer vaccine and getting my 2nd next week. My husband was also able to get the vaccine as well because there was some vaccines leftover the day of my first vaccination. This was prior to the Mandatory ruling. I think with the risk becoming greater in the community as many as possible should be vaccinated. Also family members of the residents who are visiting
    Aged Care Facilities. Not all are in Lockdown

  5. Will family members, Contractors, Doctors, Pharmacist etc of Aged Care Residents require to receive the Covid 19 vaccines before entering Aged Care facilities and visiting their loved ones?

  6. Yes I do think that it would be a responsible thing to do as they are in community circulation then visiting family and dealing with staff at facilities

  7. I think family and friends of aged care residents should also be vaccinated. Just like the flu shot is mandatory.

  8. Considering the comments made about the extreme infectiousness of the Delta variant I think over the next few months vaccination certificates should be required for anyone visiting an aged care residence. I don’t see how it could be mandated that aged care workers’ families can be monitored for vaccination – sounds a bridge too far, but a strong recommendation could be given. My understanding is that even if a person has been fully vaccinated they can still be infected and therefore could be infectious before realizing they had Covid. Vaccination just ensures that people are less likely to become seriously ill with the disease – its efficacy in preventing infection varies.

  9. Vaccination for COVID is really a commonsense precaution for everyone working with vulnerable communities.

    The big issue is that the Government has comprehensively screwed up the vaccine rollout.

    The Department of Health which is providing advice to Government on the Vaccine Rollout is the same Department of Health that has mismanaged Aged Care for so long.

    Why would we expect anything but a confusing, non transparent, shambles from their senior management !

  10. Anyone entering an aged care facility is required to have a flu vaccination so it seems logical that the same applies to the Covid Vaccination. Aged care residents can be admitted to hospital where the nursing staff dont have to be vaccinated. Doesnt make sense to me.

  11. I think aged care workers are always targeted with spreading diseases in the facilities which I believed is not true, I stay in my house mostly since COVID-19 outbreak and even before outbreak. Work is too much and you come home exhausted not even thinking of going out. If COVID vaccine is made compulsory for staff then should it be for family members who are always in the facilities. I know family members of my residents that don’t want flu vaccine for them and their relatives residents, aged care workers are community members who also deserve the rights to say “I am not yet comfortable with this”. And still be respected just like we can all say no to medical procedures we are not comfortable with. I am not against vaccines including COVID-19 vaccine but just don’t like the way aged care workers are treated in this country, just because I decided to work in aged care does not mean I gave up my human rights. We are still humans with rights just like residents we look after and their families

  12. I am more concerned re visitors to Aged Care being vaccinated. I work in Aged Care and absolutely support vaccination however i think it is an insult to ask Aged Care workers to be vaccinated and yet have hundreds of visitors per week into Aged Care who quite easily could transfer the virus. I think it should be mandated for all like the Influenza vaccination

  13. I’m an aged care worker I have had my first jab. My husband has been trying to get his. so yes I do think family members that are willing to have it.

  14. If you are going to make this the way of life for staff and or families, what about Residents families. Do they not also pose a threat to everyone when they visit their loved ones?

  15. If it is mandatory for aged care workers to be vaccinated why is it then not mandatory for all residents and visitors to be vaccinated also?

  16. If staff are to be vaccinated I feel all people visiting Aged Care should also be vaccinated.

  17. If every resident was vaccinated, would it be so necessary for the workers and visitors to be? Isn’t the aim to protect the client, so if the resident has been vaccinated, it wouldn’t matter where they go or who they meet.

  18. I just wonder is it more about how the Virus lives and if a household member could carry the virus on clothing and other surfaces where the vaccinated person may not acquire the disease but could still unknowingly carry it? The transmission is understood, but its life on surfaces perhaps not so much considered? We have seen this with Air movement in Hotel Quarantine

  19. While we’re on the topic of enforcing health decisions upon people; maybe the family members should also wear masks at all times when near the aged care worker? And this includes when they are at their private residence? **I feel like i must point out here that i am actually being sarcastic** But surely there will be some of you that would be thrilled with that suggestion.

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