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Industry calls on in home care and community workforce to get vaccinated as deadline looms

Aged care peak bodies are encouraging those who work in the in home care and community services sector to get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible, as the deadline for the first dose is less than a week away for some States and Territories.

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The first dose COVID-19 mandate deadline is approaching for the in home and community workforce and the aged care industry is encouraging workers to get vaccinated. [Source: Shutterstock]

Last week, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) recommended it be mandatory for in home and community aged care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19, and all States and Territories have adopted the AHPPC advice.

The first dose mandate deadline is approaching for the in home and community workforce in Queensland (24 November), South Australia and Tasmania (30 November), and Western Australia (1 December).

With the second dose deadline following not long after in Queensland (15 December), Tasmania (31 December), Western Australia (1 January), and South Australia (within the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) recommended interval after the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine).

In August, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) and Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) implemented a joint initiative, the Staff Vaccination Support Service (SVSS), to assist residential aged care workers to get vaccinated by the September mandate deadline.

This initiative is being used again to encourage in home care and community workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), Sean Rooney, says there has been an overwhelmingly positive response to the COVID-19 vaccination rollout from the 156,000 workers in the in home care and community aged care workforce.

Currently, more than 84 percent of this workforce has received at least one dose and 73 percent have been fully vaccinated nationwide.

"We are proud to see our home and community care workforce step up to show that they’re #ProudToProtect the older people they care for," says Mr Rooney.

"Providers have responded well to the Staff Vaccination Support Service (SVSS) campaign run jointly by aged services provider representatives LASA and ACSA to provide information and support to help encourage workers to get vaccinated during the rollout."

The first dose vaccination rates of workers in New South Wales (95 percent), Victoria (96 percent), and the Australian Capital Territory (98 percent), are already very high - past their own imposed first dose deadlines.

Workers who are not vaccinated yet may have exemptions, however, voluntary vaccine exemption reporting by aged care providers (residential, in home, and community) began on 16 November, with it expected to be made mandatory for providers by 23 November.

The second dose mandate for the in home care and community workforce is coming up as well for Victoria (26 November), and NSW and the ACT (29 November).

CEO of ACSA, Paul Sadler, says, "The positive response by staff means that aged services providers will be better placed to manage the move towards living with COVID-19 in the community. 

"It means peace of mind for the people receiving support in their home, or working in aged services, and of course for their loved ones.

"With increasing freedom comes the responsibility that we do everything possible to ensure that we can provide the best care and quality support services to older people."

Mr Rooney says that the SVSS program will continue to work with providers who have lower vaccination rates to support them with strategies to increase the uptake.

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