Home and community care providers will soon join the residential sector in facing mandatory vaccination reporting requirements.
The new rules mean they will have to provide information on a weekly basis about the number of workers employed, and whether they have received one or both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine.
However, staff won’t have to disclose whether they have received a jab or not.
“The reporting will become a formal requirement for in-home and community aged care providers in the coming weeks,” a health department spokesperson told Community Care Review.
In the meantime, providers are “strongly encouraged” to voluntarily report on their workforce vaccination status as part of ongoing COVID-19 preparedness and planning, he government says.
The residential sector faces mandatory reporting from June 15.
Providers will submit reports via an online tool on My Aged Care.
They will have to report for all aged care workers and volunteers in the organisation responsible for providing care, support and services.
Minister for Senior Australians and Aged Care Services Richard Colbeck says the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination reporting is similar to mandatory record-keeping on the flu vaccination.
Health minister Greg Hunt said the choice to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and disclose the information remained 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,” he said.
Vaccination still voluntary
Meanwhile Australian and state governments have failed to agree on making COVID-19 vaccinations for aged care workers compulsory, but on Tuesday WA Premier Mark McGowan told Fairfax Media mandatory vaccination of the state’s aged care workers would occur in August.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison told a press conference last week National Cabinet had agreed to an “in-principle disposition” towards mandating the vaccine and said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee was continuing to review 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.
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,” Mr Hicks told Australian Ageing Agenda.
Earlier this month a senate estimates committee heard the government did know how many of Australia’s 130,000 aged care workers had been vaccinated.
More information on mandatory vaccination reporting is available here.
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