Yesterday, the Queensland Government issued its Public Health Order mandating that all residential aged care workers are required to receive their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 16 September and provide evidence of this by 17 September. The PHO also states that residential aged care workers must receive or have evidence of a booking for their second dose by 31 October.
The PHO sets a number of ‘exceptional circumstances’ including the inability to access the vaccine, critical staff shortages and medical contraindications. It’s important for members who haven’t already received their first dose to understand these. If you don’t meet the ‘exceptional circumstances’ criteria or have decided not to get vaccinated from 17 September, your employer has the right to stand you down and potentially terminate your employment.
How has it come to this? Back in June Prime Minister Scott Morrison made his mandatory vaccinations announcement in an attempt to shift attention from his failed rollout – and to politicise the issue. At the time the Health Services Union went on the record to say that the Federal Government should be supporting aged care workers, not demonising the sector. Unfortunately, the politics of vaccinations has won out.
Where are we at? The majority of aged care workers have now received their first dose (67% nationally when last reported). But this still leaves a third to go in under a month. I have very serious concerns that the Federal Government has no plan come 17 September. I am very worried about what these means for an already strained workforce. If you or your colleagues are experiencing shortages or workload issues, please contact the HSU Member Services Division on 1300 478 679 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, I know there are members who, given how badly handled the rollout has been, still have questions about vaccinations. I am currently talking with a number of health professionals to see if they’ll hold a webinar next week just for HSU members. Once confirmed we will send out the details to members.