Mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for aged care workers

National Cabinet announced on 28 June 2021 that it will be mandatory for all residential aged care workers to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

29 Jun 2021

Workers are to have the first jab by mid-September under the current arrangements including GP clinics and immunisation hubs. The announcement included $11m to support workers access to vaccinations. The Prime Minister also indicated that monitoring would occur to manage any unintended consequences with a review in September – he particularly cited the risk of workers leaving the sector.

ACSA continues to meet with the Department of Health for more details on the announcement and will provide members with as much information as quickly as we can.

While we understand concerns about the impact of this on workforce supply, ACSA does support mandatory vaccinations – the community expects it and we know it’s the best protection that can be provided to residents, clients and staff.  Minister Hazzard highlighted yesterday that at the Sydney super-spreader event the six vaccinated people out of 30 attendees were the only ones not to have contracted COVID-19.

We will also advocate for support and education for workers, highlighting that they were supposed to be vaccinated earlier this year. ACSA came to its position in support of mandatory vaccinations following consultation with members. 

ACSA's media release aims to ensure that the true story of what has happened with the rollout is known. This is not the workers fault, and it is not the providers fault. This is the result of the failure of the vaccine rollout and workers not being given priority or urgency.

Here's what else we know so far:

  • Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination only applies to residential care staff. Vaccination is not mandatory for home care staff at this stage.

  • The intent is that all workers are provided with the Pfizer vaccine going forward. Currently, there are different arrangements depending on whether the vaccination is provided through in-reach or at an off-site clinic:

    • In-reach and onsite currently provide Pfizer. 

    • Off-site will provide Pfizer once it is more readily available, noting that in greater Sydney dedicated aged care vaccination hubs (Blacktown, Campbelltown and Macquarie Park) are already offering Pfizer.

  • The Residential Aged Care COVID-19 Employee Vaccination Support Grant Guidelines have been released on 1 July.

  • Eligible staff members under the grant include:

    • Categories 1, 2 and 3: Casual staff for whom the residential aged care facility is their primary place of work in the aged care sector and have been rostered on in the preceding four weeks, unless they were on annual or sick leave.

    • Category 3: all staff directly employed by the provider.

  • Under the Residential Aged Care COVID-19 Employee Vaccination Support Grant, residential aged care facilities will be paid for the following three categories of eligible expenditure:

    • Casual staff going off-site for vaccination: a flat fee of $80 payable per staff member, per dose.

    • Paid leave for casual staff who become unwell after vaccination and do not have other leave entitlements: one day's paid leave (at a rate of $185) for up to a quarter of the provider's total number of casual staff. 

    • Facilitation of off-site vaccination for employees: up to $500 per site in flexible vaccination facilitation costs per site, which may be used for activities such as transport services, arranging groups of staff to be vaccinated, and/or any other reasonable expenses that incentivise staff to get vaccinated.

  • The RFT process which allows individual providers or consortiums of providers to run their own in-reach vaccination program for staff is still open until 30 July 2021. ACSA is considering how we can support members through this process, as it remains a good opportunity for ease of vaccination for staff and efficient management for providers.

There remains a range of detail we are seeking from the Department on this measure - including categories of staff covered (particularly in light of concerns about the hospital receptionist in QLD), whether volunteers are included, and other key points.

ACSA will be hosting an online member meeting on Friday 2 July, 12.30-1.30pm (AEST), to discuss mandatory vaccinations and to answer your questions on this matter and other current COVID-19 concerns. We encourage all members to join us at this meeting for further updates.