The Covid-19 jab could become mandatory for aged care workers after the federal and state governments agreed to the measure.
Demands for mandatory vaccines have risen in recent days after Victoria’s Covid-19 outbreak passed between staff and residents at Melbourne’s Arcare facility.
Speaking after a national cabinet meeting on Friday, Prime Minister Scott Morrison revealed the nation’s leaders had paved the way for the measure.
“I was very firmly of the view, and supported strongly by states and territories, that we need to look at how we can do this safely,” Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) had been tasked with advising how the measure could be implemented and expected a “prompt” report.
“What we have asked the AHPPC to do is advise us of a suitable time frame in which a mandatory vaccination of aged care workers would be suitable and safe from a medical perspective, taking into account the balance in risks,” Mr Morrison said.
“We will let them have their consideration and advise us what would be a safe period to have such a mandatory vaccination time period.”
Mr Morrison said a decision on whether to impose the measure would be ultimately a matter for the states and territories.
“For vaccinations to be made mandatory for aged care workers, that has to be done by public health orders at a state level, as it is done for flu vaccinations,” he said.
The Prime Minister on Thursday told parliament the AHPPC was “unlikely” to reverse its advice against mandating vaccines for aged care workers but denied he had overridden medical advice.
“We want to do it safely, and that is why we have referred how to do it safely to the AHPPC,” he said.
“I would not share the view that national cabinet at all has gone against medical advice. We are actually seeking it.”
Chief medical officer Paul Kelly conceded a WA health order to mandate vaccines for hotel security guards had led to workers leaving the industry.
“We know that that could be an issue and we don’t want that to be an issue,” he said.
“We want people to come forward and volunteer.”
Health Minister Greg Hunt revealed aged care facilities would be obligated to report all worker vaccinations from June 15.
“Where an aged care worker has been vaccinated outside the facility, [they must] provide the information so we have full accounting of every facility and every aged care worker,” he said.
The Council on the Ageing (COTA) has called on all governments to act on vaccination in aged care as soon as possible.
“COTA notes that National Cabinet has tasked AHPPC to provide advice on this matter as soon as possible and that National Cabinet will next meet on 9 July 2021. This needs to be resolved before then,” COTA chief executive, Ian Yates said.
“COTA welcomes the announcement that from 15 June all aged care providers will be required to report to the Australian government on the number of aged care workers who have been vaccinated in their aged care facilities. However we need to make sure they all are.
“The only guaranteed way to reduce the risk of another asymptomatic staff member carrying Covid into an aged care home is to ensure every aged care worker is vaccinated. Of course, the onus is on governments to ensure the supply and distribution of appropriate vaccines.”Do you have an idea for a story?
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