Mandatory vaccination proposal splits aged care

Aged care industry representatives are split over a proposal to make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for workers, with some operators concerned additional demands would reduce goodwill, increase “rebellion” and entrench worker shortages.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee is assessing a proposal from Australian Health and Aged Care Minister Greg Hunt to make the vaccinations mandatory, as has happened in previous influenza seasons.

Leading Age Services Australia CEO Sean Rooney said that they have repeatedly urged the protection of older Australians throughout the pandemic.


“It must be a national priority to do all we can to protect older Australians in-care and the staff who look after them, from the coronavirus,” he said.

“Part of doing all we can to protect older Australians in-care is to consider mandated COVID-19 vaccinations for aged care workers – assuming it is safe to do so and with appropriate exemptions for workers.”

He said it was, appropriately, a consideration for the AHPCC based on medical expertise. A previous review of mandatory provisions deemed it unnecessary to make it compulsory for workers.

Revelations during Senate Estimates this week, combined with the urgency of the latest Victorian outbreak, have focussed attention on Australia’s COVID-19 vaccination program.

By Wednesday, June 2, two residents and two workers from Arcare Maidstone had tested positive for COVID-19. One of the residents had their second vaccination dose two days earlier.

It also emerged about 10 per cent of the aged care workforce had been vaccinated, and specific datasets were not being kept. Workers were meant to be a priority group due to the potential impact on vulnerable residents.

HammondCare Chief Operating and Risk Officer Angela Raguz said providers would face challenges enforcing any mandatory vaccine requirements.

Strong infection control principles, a proportionate community response and a measured risk management approach was important, she said.

“It will almost certainly result in a reduction in people prepared to enter the sector,” she said.

“It will take extensive resources and to respond to the staff concerns, particularly those in the AstraZeneca age group. I know the risks of adverse reactions are small, but it’s not easy to convince in our case over 1000 staff that this is the case.”

She said trust in the vaccine was still building and people would continue to be concerned until the medium to longer term.

“One of the strengths of the program to date has been that it is not mandated,” she said. “Very few staff have rejected the idea of having the vaccine but making it mandatory will increase the ‘rebellion’ effect.

“The best strategy is a balanced one. We strongly encourage our staff, residents and their families to be vaccinated along with the rest of the population.”

In Queensland, Anglicare Southern Queensland Executive Director Karen Crouch said the vaccine was an important part of the overall response to protecting those in residential aged care.

“Our aged care staff are strong advocates for our residents and they absolutely want to do whatever they can to keep them safe,” she said.

“We have had a 100 per cent uptake among our aged care staff for this year’s influenza vaccination, and we expect there would be a similar uptake for the COVID-19 vaccine.

“We don’t anticipate that making the vaccine mandatory for residential aged care staff would create a workforce shortage for our services.”

She pointed to their comprehensive existing processes and systems in place to ensure compliance with legislative requirements, including mandatory vaccinations, qualifications and training.

The nurses’ union, however, has been outraged by the idea.

Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation Federal Assistant Secretary Lori-Anne Sharp said the mandatory vaccine issue was a “smokescreen” for the failure to facilitate vaccinations for the workforce.

“It’s quite extraordinary that the government is talking about mandating the COVID vaccines in private aged care when they have fundamentally failed to have access to those workers in private age care,” she said.

“There is no transparency around it. Given the workers haven’t had access to it, talking about mandating it is quite extraordinary. If you encourage and offer an environment where workers have access and appropriate leave … then workers will do it.

“We know nurses and carers working in the health industry are supportive of vaccinations. They understand the public health response.” 

47 COMMENTS

  1. It is simply staggeringly stupid that the staff employed to care and protect vulnerable elderly residents aren’t required to be vaccinated. I believe that non vaccinated staff will continue to be the weak link with covid infection in facilities. Every one that enters a facility, resident, staff or visitor should be required to be fully vaccinated…or just don’t come in at all.
    I believe residents safety outweighs all other opinion or belief.

    • Well if you’re going to mandate vaccination to every person visiting an aged care centre you’ll have to vaccinate every person who comes in close contact with every elderly person in the community . Not sure why the elderly in nursing homes are more important than the rest of the elderly in the community.

    • I’m a nurses and I’m vaccinated. I totally believe in vaccination but I don’t believe in forcing people. Why not simply vaccinate the people in aged care? They can protect themselves!

  2. When family members have died from blood clots not from the vaccination it is so wrong to tell people they have to have something that may kill them or worse leave them brain damaged, if they make it mandatory then they should offer the safer vaccination Pfizer, I would have that immediately but I don’t qualify, but I do qualify for the risks of the other vaccination, I would rather quit my job

  3. To hear only 10 per cent of aged care staff are vaccinated is breathtakingly stupid, it must be 100 per cent and mandatory, I’m vaccinated and no issue, must be no jab no no job policy, aged care is the highest risk of infection, (edited under Inside Ageing policy), those in charge and in the health unions should be ashamed of themselves, if there is more deaths in aged care the owners, those in management and unions must face the full force of the laws when sued, get vaccinated now, I’m so over this misinformation bullshit scaring off (edited) workers from getting the jab, end of story

    • If aged care staff are to be coerced into accepting a vaccination then all who enter a facility, all who come into contact with a resident (including those in the community when resident is on a social outing) must also be forced to vaccinate as well.

  4. What happened to human rights?
    I’ve been working in aged care for 15 years never had the flu shot until it was mandatory never had the flu worked many outbreaks. I will not be having the covid vaccine being part of a clinical trial not knowing the long term side effects. I will walk from aged care along with half my workmates if they make it mandatory…
    This will be the biggest mistake the government makes considering the shortage already with nurses and care staff – 90% of the people I know in the industry will walk.

    • I left aged care when the flu vaccination became mandatory. I will leave nursing entirely if the covid vaccination is mandated for my current workplace. I will not renew my registration.

    • I agree, I do not want the vaccine. What are the long term effects? They know the AstraZeneca effects are blood clots to some but the Pfizer, there are no effects yet but what long term? They won’t know until shit hits the fan. So many of my workers don’t want the vaccine and are prepared to walk. Only 20/60 staff are vaccinated and out of 40 remaining most will walk…we’re already struggling to get staff now…
      If the residents have a choice to not get vaccinated why the hell do we not have a choice? If they are going to make it mandatory then all front line workers should be too! Like hospitals, they don’t have to get it..so stupid

    • So great to hear your comment and some common sense. I would also walk from any position where I was required to be vaccinated by a law. My body, my choice.

  5. I cannot believe how naive people are. So lets vaccinate all staff but allow non vaccinated family members to visit the facility. Where is the sense in that? I also know many that will walk if it is made mandatory. Even if just 5% leave as a result, it will cripple the industry that is already struggling to get aged care staff, especially nursing staff.

  6. I work in aged care and have worked in facility, community and currently work for a private client as a 24hr carer. I will NOT be a guinea pig for an unproven vaccine. I am not an anti-vaxer. I bowed down and had the flu vaccine last year in order to keep my job in aged care. I do not believe I should be made to have any of the covid vaccines as we don’t know the long term side effects from these experimental drugs. I too would rather resign than get the jab.

  7. So they have made the Covid 19 mandatory for aged care workers. Well buckle up , there will be mass walk outs . I have worked in aged care for 16 years , and there is no way I will get the jab . As per previous comments I will not be a guinea pig for the vaccine and visitors can visit their loved ones and not be vaccinated , that is plain stupidity . To add insult to injury aged care workers are under valued , over worked and under paid . $ 24 an hour isn’t worth the long term effects that the vaccine may cause . The WHO stated that the vaccine will not be proven to be clinically safe until the year 2023. Shove them jab where the sun don’t shine

  8. I will be now finishing up in my job as of 31st August as I do not wish to be a guinea pig either for a unproven vaccine. I am not an anti-vac. I also had the flu vaccine last year for the first time ever to keep my job in aged care. If the residents are vaccinated one would think they are protected. Isn’t that why we vaccinate? Unfortunately they will not be that well protected as of 1st September when people walk from the industry. Look on Seek and see how many jobs are currently available in aged care that they cant fill. Will the mandatory vaccine apply to every person that walks into a aged care home? Way to many mixed messages re the CV vaccine.

  9. I guess I will be leaving, not because I don’t love my residents, or my job. Not because we have not been given a choice, not because I am an anti-Vaxer ( have had the flu shot for many years) not because I am a conspiracy nut.
    I will not have the COVID shot because there has been no long term testing on this and they are still sending updates out about these vaccines as they learn more and more about it. I will have it in 5 years when it has been proven safe and most side effects are know…..
    This is my personal opinion, please don’t judge.

  10. I have two questions that some learned person may be able to answer for me.

    1. Does the government now assume full liability if an injury occurs to an aged care worker resulting from mandated Covid19 Shots, as it is provisional use the manufactures are indemnified?

    2. The manufacturers of the Vaccines have stated it does not stop you catching or spreading Covid19. How does mandating it benefit a third party?

    • From what I have read the Government has announced additional funding to assist mandating it. My understanding is that compensation relieves them of any liability if something does go wrong.
      And your point two EXACTLY!! ‍♀️

      My question is if their is any kind of forum for employees to have a say?? Are any organisations pro choice?

  11. and you’re very right no one knows the long-term side effects of this and is your wellbeing and your health worth it just for a job? My wife works in aged care; if all the people in care have been done why do the carers need doing it, don’t matter if you had it or not you can still carry it – it’s on you not in you…

  12. I can’t believe we have come to this. Our freedom of choice has been compromised here. I am obligated to take a covid jab, then who will l help me when I get sick from the jab? I love my job, but I’m not risking my own health just for my job. I’m truly disheartened by all this.

  13. You want me to allow to be injected into my body a recently discovered genetically modified mutating deactivated virus of unknown origin that may or may not be manufactured that the government considers so safe the companies researching, manufacturing, and distributing it are absolved of any liability as are the doctors who prescribe it.

  14. Thats a big NO from me. I’ll consider it in a few years time when i can see the effects of it myself. Thank god i am in a financial position to leave nursing.

  15. I have been working in aged care for 6 years and I love working with my residents. I like others have never had the flu shot but gave in to that because of the mandate. I didn’t mind so much because the long-term side effects are well known and documented. I’m a single mum. I’m not an anti vaxer. I and my son have had all vaccinations required. But this is where I draw the line. I will not put something into my body that has not been researched properly and the long term side effects are still not known. There is no conspiracy theory just safety for myself! Is the government going to look after my son and provide for him if I die or become incapacitated. I don’t like these people on here calling us stupid or uneducated. I’m very well educated, I have a degree in Nursing. And I have researched and spent many hours learning as much as I can about this to make an educated decision, which is more than most people in Australia have done because they are just following like sheep the media and what the government says.

    Am I scared of getting the COVID jab …. damn right! Because there is no guarantee and no liability for anyone if something happens to me!

    I’m OUT of Aged Care…… this industry will suffer!

  16. I’m behind the aged care workers who should have the choice what they inject into their own bodies. Everyone should have a choice as they are the one who has to live with potential side effects. It’s not like you can reverse the effects once you’ve injected it.

  17. Healthcare workers have to have many vaccinations in order to start working in healthcare. We love helping people which is why we choose modest pay and a humble lifestyle.

    I will also quit.

    I am SO proud of every educated healthcare who is making a stand. Aged care workers are presumed to be an easy target market who will succumb to pressure. Next other healthcare workers will be pressured…
    Will class actions be allowed like in America if organisations are allowed to mandate vaccines? I hope so… But probably unlikely as our options will be “informed consent” or leave your job.

    When did the general public stop questioning who really runs this country? (edited)

  18. I too am in aged care and don’t want to put an untested untreated vaccine into my body. I’m all for vaccines but never in history has another vaccine been rolled out so quickly, with many taking decades of research and development. It’s for this simple reason that i wish to wait, until testing and side effects are completed and known. I’m so torn, I want to continue working for my client but I don’t want to be a guinea pig in this world wide trial.

  19. I am so proud of all the workers taking a stand! (edited)
    The mainstream media is promoting one story alone. (edited) I am a retired healthcare worker, am not an anti-Vaxer and highly educated and there is no way I am having the jab. This will be devastating to the aged care sector; it’s your life and you need to protect yourselves. And to any people or families of the aged in care that is angry; well, if you believe so much in this jab and your elderly have had the jab, then why are you worried about them getting Covid from a worker ????

  20. What the government has done is disgusting. Where is the freedom of choice? Why pick on aged care workers? What about visitors, family, tradespeople? What about residents who leave the facility to go into the community? What about residents who choose not to have it? This has so many holes in it! I planned on leaving aged care in 18 months now I will leave in September. (edited)… we don’t know the long term effects (edited). So no jabs for me. Aged care will suffer, I assist in the recruitment and we cannot attract staff now! It’s a disaster and it won’t make a difference!

  21. I have worked in aged care for 25 yrs and I’ll be damned if anyone tries to tell me what to put in My Body.I already have health problems but turn up for my job,but no bloody government will dictate what I do.I will also leave along with many others.Scott Morrison should be ashamed of himself,who’s pushing that pricks buttons to push this bloody vaccine.Time for them to resign.We need to stand together and show them we will not bend to their control.

  22. I have worked in aged care for 25 years, my body my choice residents have a choice. Long turn side effects unknown.Aged care lowest-paid workforce hardest workers. Special people work in aged care! What about the workforce being divided 2020 cleaners and all other staff were not front line workers no retention bonus for them or admin, but now classed as frontline workers for the jab. Give us a break. Why target aged care? We worked masked and with shields to protect the elderly. Get your quarantine right in the first place there be no Covid…

  23. As nurses/care workers we must protect our own health first as our employers surely will not, nor our govt. There is far too much rhetoric around our obligations to our residents and patients as the basis for mandatory vaccination. Sorry, I won’t risk this vaccine for the sake of a job that is already so demanding and undervalued in our society.

    • Just wondering if you found out how to fight it or groups I can join regarding this as I too work in aged care community and also feel like I’ve been pushed into a corner to have it

  24. You know what angers me most is the comments by some that we are being selfish and don’t care about our residents. Really ??? Everyone else is allowed freedom of choice expect aged care nurses it’s just so wrong. I will be leaving after more than 30 years in aged care.

  25. Yep, many years in this industry and sadly with the no jab no job I will be also leaving this industry. I can’t have this due to health reasons , regardless I will be leaving

  26. As of the 30th of September 2021, I will no longer be permitted to work as a Registered Nurse in NSW. It will be the end of a 32-year nursing career.

    If it feels like you are alone in this, rest assured you are not.

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