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Picture: NCA NewsWire / David Crosling

Daniel Andrews criticises Commonwealth’s slow vaccination rate of private aged care workers

Front line workers in private aged care facilities are “nowhere near” being fully vaccinated against coronavirus, Daniel Andrews has revealed.

The Commonwealth government runs the private aged care sector in Victoria, while the Andrews government controls all public nursing homes.

The Victorian Premier said vaccination rates among staff in public aged care facilities were close to 100 per cent, but the same could not be said for the Commonwealth-run facilities.

“Private aged care is nowhere near that number, nowhere near that number,” Andrews said.

Workers in aged care have been given priority to access the vaccine since the national rollout started in February.

But limited supply has caused the rollout to slow down, with the Commonwealth forced to change its vaccination targets.

The sector was crippled last year after the virus leaked into facilities across the country, particularly in Victoria where 95 per cent of the state’s 820 Covid-19 deaths were linked to outbreaks in aged care.

A total of 45 people died at St Basil‘s aged care facility in Fawkner and 38 people died at Epping Gardens in Melbourne’s north.

“I don’t regulate private aged care and I think we demonstrated last year that sometimes we’re not the best people to tell them what they should do,” Andrews quipped.

“[the Commonwealth] don’t always listen to people from the state government. Sometimes it has tragic outcomes – It’s a federal system.

“It’s not a matter of avoiding any responsibility. [Private aged care] is regulated and funded, accredited, policed by the federal government.”

When questioned if the vaccine would be mandated among staff in private aged care, Andrews said he had spoken with Prime Minister Scott Morrison about the issue.

“I made these points to the Prime Minister. He knows my position on this,” he said.

“I don’t like making rules we’re not going to enforce and I’m not going to assume responsibility for a sector I don’t fund, that I don’t regulate, and that some of whom last year indicated they weren’t prepared to listen to let alone someone from a government they don’t have any relationship with.”

However, Andrews said vaccination rates among residents in private aged care facilities were “well and truly advanced”.

“I’m trying to make the point that some things are within the state government’s control and some things aren’t,” he said.

“We’ll do as much as we can but ultimately the federal government are the ones who regulate that sector.”

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