Australians can now see how many workers are vaccinated at every aged care facility in a new push to drive up immunisation rates and stop the spread of COVID-19 among the most vulnerable.
A new map published on the Health Department website on Monday displays the vaccination rates at aged care sites nationally as well as the average level of immunisation by geographic area.
The data shows there can be vast differences between the vaccination rates among workers in neighbouring facilities, in a move which will put extra scrutiny on operators to ensure staff and residents are protected.
The data reveals that at St Basil’s nursing home in Victoria, where tens of residents died at the height of the pandemic last year, 90 to 100 per cent of staff have received at least one dose. Melbourne’s outer suburbs are less protected than its inner areas.
In NSW, the proportion of aged care staff in Liverpool who have received at least one dose sits at 60 to 69 per cent, while in Blacktown the rate is 80 to 89 per cent. In Dubbo, the rate is 60 to 69 per cent.
Lieutenant-General John Frewen, co-ordinator general of Operation COVID Shield, said vaccinating aged care workers is a priority and the map was a tool to work with providers to ensure the workforce gets the jab by September 17.
“The aged care sector has been fully engaged in getting its workforce vaccinated and the taskforce will continue to work with them to achieve this end,” he said.
Last week, it was revealed more than 40 per cent of aged care workers or about 110,000 people are yet to get their first shot. Under the original roll-out plan every aged care resident and worker was going to be vaccinated by early April. The vast majority of deaths related to COVID-19 in Australia have been due to outbreaks in aged care facilities.
Aged care workers are among several groups given priority status allowing every staff member to be able to receive the Pfizer vaccine regardless of age.
Providers are required to report vaccination rates and the map will be updated weekly, but no data is being provided for sites with fewer than five staff.
Smaller facilities will be displayed with a larger range of the vaccination rate to avoid identifying the vaccination status of any individual.
Health Services Union secretary Gerard Hayes said many workers in the sector who wanted to get vaccinated hadn’t been able to do so.
“People who made appointments and had to cancel them to go to work,” he said.
He said he was receiving calls from those in the sector looking for assistance to get vaccinated, including from workers on the Central Coast and in Dubbo, and was concerned about the pressure put on workers.
“We are seeing people leaving the industry and that worries me due to the workforce that’s required now and into the future,” Mr Hayes said.
It is mandatory for aged care workers to get the coronavirus vaccine. The NSW government is making vaccines mandatory for all state health workers and major companies in the private sector have also started taking this step including airline Qantas, which is requiring all its 22,000 workers to get the jab, and food giant SPC.
A survey from national employer association Ai Group of more than 700 companies found majority support for some form of mandatory vaccination of staff.
Ai Group chief executive Innes Willox said 24 per cent would like to mandate coronavirus vaccinations for some or all of their employees and a further 27 per cent wanted this to be mandated through a health order related to their industry.
About 37 per cent of those surveyed said they would offer and encourage optional vaccination.
“The message for policymakers is that despite the red herring put around in recent days that health orders are the only way to go for mandating COVID vaccinations, there are a large number of employers ready to use longstanding legal rights to introduce mandating where lawful and reasonable,” he said.