Around 40,000 NDIS participants aged between 12-15 now have access to the Pfizer covid-19 vaccine following approval from the immunisation advisory group ATAGI.
NDIS participants aged 16 years and over became eligible in June and almost half of this cohort have had their first jab, the government says.
Health minister Greg Hunt says the decision to extend the vaccine to younger teens from August 25 will make a big difference to the lives of children with disability and their families, and has encouraged parents and carers to book in for a vaccination .
“Today’s announcement is welcome news to the disability sector and government and will help ensure some of our most vulnerable Australians can be vaccinated as soon as possible,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We encourage their parents and carers to book them in for a vaccination and ensure they can be protected against covid-19.”
NDIS participants will now join other 12-15 year-olds prioritised for the Pfizer vaccine, including children with specified medical conditions, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and children in remote communities.
We’re making inroads, NDIS minister says
NDIS minister Linda Reynolds says the government is continuing to progress the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to the disability sector, with more than 8,200 vaccination points.
She says 123,000 – 46 per cent – of NDIS participants aged over 16 have received at least one dose of the vaccine and 28 per cent have received two doses.
More than 18,500 – or 68 per cent – of NDIS participants in shared residential accommodation have received at least one dose, and almost 53 per cent have had two doses.
Senator Reynolds says many NDIS participants need special vaccination arrangements including the need to ensure informed consent or appropriate decision making.
“There has been a concerted and sustained effort across Government and the disability sector to communicate the importance of vaccination, and to increase the points of access available to people with disability, including specialist disability vaccination hubs,” she said.
Victoria announces disability worker blitz
Meanwhile Victoria has announced a vaccination blitz for disability workers saying all disability workers can walk up to any state vaccination centre in the state to get vaccinated until Sunday August 29.
All residential disability care workers and aged care workers will be given priority access at state-run vaccination centres to receive the vaccine of their choice, regardless of age.
It follows an earlier blitz in June.
“This is making it easier for our aged care and disability workers to get vaccinated while also helping us reach our goal of one million vaccine doses in five weeks,” disability, ageing and carers Minister Luke Donnellan said.
All private and residential aged care workers in Australia are required to receive their first vaccination dose by September 17 as a condition of employment, as mandated by National Cabinet, however the mandate hasn’t been extended to disability staff.