Home care workers will not be subject to mandatory vaccination requirements despite the government’s announcement that all residential aged care workers will have to get a jab if they want to keep working.
National Cabinet on Monday agreed to mandate a first dose covid-19 vaccination for all residential aged care workers by mid September following the latest outbreak linked to the Delta variant of the virus which has seen cities and regions across Australia subject to renewed restrictions and lockdowns.
However, home care workers won’t be required to get vaccinated for now, the government says.
It also comes amid low rates of vaccination among the general populations and claims the government has bungled the roll out of vaccines to the aged care sector.
Prime minister Scott Morrison says vaccination will be mandated for residential aged care workers as a condition of working in an aged care facility through shared state, territory and Commonwealth authorities and compliance measures.
The new rules don’t apply to the home care sector although they are encouraged to get vaccinated.
“In-home and community aged care workers are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated, but it remains voluntary for them at this time,” a health department spokeswoman told Community Care Review.
Residential aged care workers will be supported to be vaccinated through an $11 million program to enable them to attend off-site vaccination centres and GPs.
Peak aged care organisations LASA and ACSA have broadly welcomed the vaccine mandate for residential workers but unions have expressed concerns about the impact it will have have on the workforce, with United Workers Union aged care director Carolyn Smith describing the measure as a “political fix” rather than a “public health fix”.
Despite the home care sector being exempt from mandatory vaccination, the government foreshadowed earlier this month that home and community service providers would be joining the residential sector in having to report on the vaccination status of staff.
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