The Federal Government has mandated aged care provider reporting of staff COVID-19 vaccinations, but it remains voluntary for the sector’s 350,000 staff to disclose their status.
From 15 June, residential aged care providers must report weekly via an online reporting tool on My Aged Care the number of workers at each service and whether they have received one or both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Voluntary reporting of staff vaccination status commenced on 4 June, the same day Mr Hunt announced it would become mandatory for residential aged care providers from mid-June.
However, staff are not required to disclose whether they have received a COVID-19 jab or not.
“The choice to get vaccinated and to disclose this information is voluntary but we do hope the workforce gets behind this important initiative. They will be protecting themselves, their families and the people they care for,” Mr Hunt said in a statement.
Mandatory reporting for home and community care providers will commence in the coming weeks, the Department of Health said.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck said the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination reporting is similar to mandatory record-keeping on the flu vaccination.
Also on Friday, the Australian and state governments failed to agree on making COVID-19 vaccinations for aged care workers compulsory, which was flagged last week.
However, Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a press conference that the members of National Cabinet have agreed to an “in-principle disposition” towards mandating the vaccine for and said that the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee was again reviewing the proposed measure.
“Make no mistake, we are leaning heavily into this as leaders of governments and myself as Prime Minister to see us move towards a mandatory vaccination for aged care workers,” Mr Morrison said.
However, stakeholders have been raising ongoing concerns about the difficulties of accessing vaccine for the aged care workforce after the government reneged on its original commitment to vaccinate staff at the aged care home where they work.
Focus is on getting vaccinated
Leading Age Services Australia general manager, policy and advocacy Tim Hicks said the focus must be on ensuring staff can access the vaccine as quickly and easily as possible.
“Aged care providers vaccinate staff for the flu every year, working with local GPs and pharmacies. We should have the same approach for COVID vaccinations,” said Mr Hicks told Australian Ageing Agenda.
He said aged care provider TLC Healthcare were able to vaccinate all their staff using this approach.
“Ongoing delays in through the tender process are unacceptable,” Mr Hicks said.
Factsheets to support data collection
The Department of Health has released a series of factsheets on collecting and reporting data to support aged care providers and staff.
Under the new rules, aged care providers must report for all aged care workers and volunteers in the organisation responsible for providing care, support and services. This includes maintenance and administration staff in residential aged care.
Residential aged care providers should also include agency staff whose most frequent shifts occur at their facility.
If a residential aged care staff member works across multiple sites within an care organisation, providers should include the primary site of work.
If workers decline to provide their vaccination status, providers should still include them in the number of workers at the service.
Aged care providers do not need to report which vaccine staff received and staff are not required to provide evidence of their vaccination status.