The rollout of COVID-19 booster shots in residential aged care has reached more than 1,000 facilities and 50,000 residents in just over a month and is “well ahead of schedule”, a Department of Health spokesperson has told Australian Ageing Agenda.

There are around 2,700 residential aged care services and 184,000 residents in Australia, according to last month’s Federal Government report on aged care.

Immunisation providers engaged by the health department have visited 1,013 residential aged care facilities as of 13 December as part of the COVID-19 vaccine booster program. And 50,848 aged care residents have received a booster shot as of 13 December, the spokesperson said.

“Australia remains well ahead of schedule on our aged care booster program, with full delivery expected to be completed early in 2022,” the spokesperson told AAA.

All residential aged care providers are being offered an in-reach booster clinic delivered by a Commonwealth vaccine provider, according to the health department’s website.

Providers can choose to:

  • request a general practitioner to conduct an on-site booster clinic
  • use their own qualified nursing staff, or a third party, to self-manage an onsite booster clinic
  • accept the offer from the Australian Government to deliver an in-reach booster clinic. 

“With the updated ATAGI [Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] advice on the timing for boosters the department is working with providers to reiterate the importance of scheduling boosters including the range of options such as also using local GPs and pharmacies,” the spokesperson said.

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt announced in October the COVID-19 vaccine booster program would commence on 8 November with early priority given to aged care and disability.

However, the first booster vaccines were administered more than two weeks ahead of that start date at TLC Healthcare’s aged care homes using in-house primary care vaccination teams.

TLC Healthcare CEO Lou Pascuzzi said the provider’s rollout was going “exceptionally well.”

Lou Pascuzzi

“All of our residents, staff and contractors that were eligible to receive a booster did so by November 12,” Mr Pascuzzi told AAA.

“We will be returning regularly to capture those who become eligible six months after their second vaccine dose,” he said.

The provider’s immunisation teams have also re-visited 62 of the 130 Victorian residential aged care homes it assisted in the initial vaccine rollout, Mr Pascuzzi said.

“We anticipate that the residents, staff, and contractors at all of the homes will become eligible over the next six months, so we plan to complete the program by May 2022,” Mr Pascuzzi said.

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