Aged Care Industry - Compulsory COVID-19 Vaccination
State and territory public health orders and directions are now in place for residential aged care workers. These public health orders and directions define who must be vaccinated, and the limited exemptions that may apply.
Individuals are personally responsible for complying with the mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements, including by providing their employer with evidence of their COVID-19 vaccination or authorised exemption.
Additionally, aged care providers must take reasonable steps to ensure non-compliant workers do not enter and remain at their facility or service, and should carefully consider the formal public health orders and directions applicable to them in each of the states and territories where their facilities or services operate.
Who must be vaccinated?
Residential aged care facility workers in all Australian states and territories are required to be vaccinated.
This includes nursing staff, office staff, receptionists as well as people who provides services for the facility for one or more residents (whether or not they are engaged by the facility) must not enter or remain on the premises of a residential aged care facility unless they have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or produce a medical contraindication certificate.
This obligation does not apply to a health practitioner who enters a residential aged care facility in responding to a medical emergency.
The My Aged Care provider portal enables reporting on all exemption and exception categories in place for each state and territory.
All temporary and permanent medical exemptions must be authorised by a medical practitioner, who can notify the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) of an individual who has a vaccine exemption due to medical contraindications or natural immunity, which will be displayed on the individual's Immunisation History Statement.
Recording employee vaccination status
In line with the direction set out in the relevant state or territory public health order, residential aged care providers are required to keep a record of the vaccination status of their workers, and provide weekly reports on:
- workforce COVID-19 vaccinations and authorised exemptions to a COVID-19 vaccine; and
- the COVID-19 vaccination status of residents.
Residential aged care providers are required to report on the number of workers with an authorised exemption as part of their weekly workforce COVID-19 vaccination reporting via the My Aged Care provider portal.
Employers in the aged care industry should regularly remind workers to follow relevant health protocols while attending work, including to:
- Ensure they have 'checked-in' using the QR code on site;
- practice social distancing where possible;
- carry and use correct PPE; and
- follow your COVID-19 safe plan.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.