Thousands of aged care residents around the country have received their COVID-19 jab as the government’s nation-wide vaccination rollout gets underway.

A TLC Healthcare aged care facility in Victoria and five Uniting facilities in New South Wales and Canberra are among 240 aged care facilities to get the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine in the first week of the rollout.

More than 142,000 doses of this COVID-19 vaccine arrived last week, of which 30,000 have been allocated to aged care residents and staff.

On Monday, 130 residents at TLC Heathcare’s Homestead Estate in Wallington received the vaccine , said TLC Healthcare CEO Lou Pascuzzi.

“The vaccination rollout at Homestead Estate was a huge success. Team TLC, working in conjunction with the immunisation team, had all of our eligible residents vaccinated by the afternoon,” Mr Pascuzzi told Australian Ageing Agenda.

The process ran without any major issues and residents were excited to be amongst the first in the country to receive the vaccine, he said.

Lou Pascuzzi

“When we vaccinated our first resident, Elaine Madden, there were cheers and applause from our residents and staff. Our resident’s families and carers have also been amazingly supportive, and were quick to respond to the call-out to arrange consent,”  Mr Pascuzzi said.

TLC Healthcare has been preparing for the rollout of the vaccine to the organisation’s 11 aged care homes for several weeks, he said.

“As soon as we were notified by the Department of Health that Homestead Estate would be one of the first homes to receive the vaccination, TLC’s Coronavirus Taskforce implemented our vaccination campaign.

“My management team at Homestead Estate were busy collecting consent from our residents, their families and carers for the past week; so that the vaccination workforce had everything they required to get started,” Mr Pascuzzi said.

Doctors and chronic disease management nurses at TLC have completed the Department of Health mandatory COVID-19 vaccine training in preparation of the vaccine roll-out, he said.

“We were well equipped to manage all post-vaccination care.”

TLC Healthcare said they were waiting to hear when residents at the remaining facilities will receive the vaccine, and that no date was yet set for staff vaccinations.

“Overwhelmingly positive”

More than 300 Uniting NSW ACT residents at five Uniting homes – Mirinjani, Eabrai, Banks Lodge, Roberts Lodge, and Mullauna – had been vaccinated as of Tuesday afternoon.

A Uniting spokesperson said the rollout was going well.  

“There has been an overwhelmingly positive response to receiving the COVID-19 vaccination across all our services, with people quickly consenting,” a Uniting spokesperson told AAA.

“People are feeling confident about the information available and want this additional precaution against this virus,” the spokesperson said.

Uniting Mirinjani resident Judy Baker, 86, said she was excited to get the vaccine.

“I would recommend that everybody gets the vaccine to keep us all safe – that’s the main priority,” Ms Baker said in a statement.

Tracey Burton

Uniting NSW ACT chief executive Tracey Burton said she hoped the vaccine is the start of a new beginning.

“It’s been an exceptionally difficult year for older and vulnerable Australians and those who care for them.

“While this is far from the end of COVID-19, and we still need to maintain all COVID protocols, we are finally on track to more normal lives,” Ms Burton said in a statement.

Main image: Uniting Banks Lodge resident June Aaron receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

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