NSW Government mandates COVID vaccination for aged care workers

What do you think about the Public Health Order? Register your views here:

Late yesterday afternoon, the NSW Government issued its state-wide Public Health Order (PHO) mandating a first dose of a COVID vaccine for all aged care workers by 17 September.

This comes just days after the government had made the direction for aged care workers in impacted local government areas (LGAs) by 30 August.

You can see the full PHO here.

The PHO states that all aged care workers, including those working for outsourced contracting companies, will have their first dose of a COVID vaccine and, if required by their employer, will provide evidence of this.

The PHO has exemption for people who have a medical contraindication and who provide their employer with a copy of an approved certificate issued by a medical professional.  The PHO also allows the Minister for Health to make exemptions the Minister believes “it is necessary to protect the health and well-being of the residents of a residential aged care facility.”

What happens now?

If an aged care worker is unvaccinated and does not have an exemption, your employer has the legal right to stand down your employment in the first instance and potentially terminate you.

The Health Services Union has consistently raised with all tiers of government our fears that the sector will lose workers, and place incredible pressure on the remaining workforce. Despite our best efforts they have ignored these concerns.

The Health Services Union wants to understand your views so we can understand the likely workforce impact and be prepared to pursue Work Health and Safety orders where there are critical shortages.

Click here to register your view: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/agedcarevax

For members who have made the decision not to get vaccinated, I understand that the position taken by the NSW Government will mean you will be forced out of a job and a sector you love. The politicisation of vaccinations is wrong and is divisive – and we should not forget that it all started because the Federal Government categorically failed to its vaccination rollout and tried to shift to focus onto workers.

For members having issues in getting a vaccination appointment, here is a link to NSW wide Aged Care Vaccine hubs: https://www.health.gov.au/news/nsw-aged-care-vaccine-hubs-open-now

Your employer should also have information about local options if your region isn’t covered here.

For members who are still unsure about vaccination, the HSU hosted a vaccination forum last night to answer the general questions we have been receiving. This was recorded and members can view here: https://youtu.be/ap6ee_fGnxU

Finally, today we sent out messages of support for frontline workers. Despite the failure of governments to recognise you and your colleagues, the whole community understands just how important the work you do is. Thank you.