Low aged care COVID vaccination rates in the spotlight

Thursday, 27 June, 2024

Low aged care COVID vaccination rates in the spotlight

All residential aged care providers have been put on notice to ensure residents are able to access COVID-19 vaccinations.

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission said that every aged care provider should know what they need to do to reduce the risk of, prepare for, and minimise the impact of a COVID-19 outbreak. It is also planning to conduct unannounced site visits to residential care homes with low COVID-19 vaccination rates to determine the reasons for this situation and the efforts that providers are making to address it.

Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner Janet Anderson said all residential aged care providers must ensure timely access to COVID-19 vaccinations for residents, as well as ensuring robust infection prevention and control measures are in place to reduce the risk of an outbreak over the winter period.

“Supporting residents to understand the benefits of vaccination and to get vaccinated is a responsibility of residential aged care providers, working with local general practitioners (GPs), community pharmacists and the local Primary Health Network,” the Commissioner said.

Residential aged care homes with low COVID-19 vaccination rates raise questions for the Commission about whether those in charge of those homes are focusing enough on protecting older people in their care from serious disease.

“We are concerned about the proportion of aged care residents who are not up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations. Timely access to vaccination should be part of routine clinical care for every older person,” Anderson said.

“Where we find that a provider lacks interest and/or capability to take the necessary action, and their ongoing inattention to this vital preventative measure is placing residents in harm’s way, there will be regulatory consequences.

“I urge anyone living in aged care, their family and friends to carefully consider getting vaccinated against COVID-19 and keeping boosters up to date to aid protection against both infection and severe disease. It is also really important for aged care workers to get vaccinated to protect themselves and the older people they care for.”

In addition to unannounced visits, the Commissioner will be writing to those providers with low resident vaccination rates to remind them of their obligations.

Image credit: iStock.com/FatCamera

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