COVID: Vaccination rollout to aged care staff plagued by access issues

JAB: Access to COVID-19 vaccinations has been plagued by access issues for residential aged care staff in the northern beaches. Picture: Shutterstock
JAB: Access to COVID-19 vaccinations has been plagued by access issues for residential aged care staff in the northern beaches. Picture: Shutterstock

THE biggest residential aged care providers in the northern beaches are tight-lipped about just how many staff have had a Covid-19 jab.

The Northern Beaches Review contacted eight companies that provide aged care in the LGA and while six were happy to provide vaccination rates, the biggest two - Opal Health Care and Thompson Health Care - did not respond.

On June 30, National Cabinet agreed that the Covid vaccination of residential aged care workers will become mandatory by mid-September 2021. By then, workers must have had at least their first jab.

Uniting have two locations in the LGA, and 84 per cent of staff in Manly have received at least one jab, while at Belrose its 62 per cent of staff. All residents have been fully vaccinated, except those who have opted out due to factors including current medical status.

"We are well on track to achieving the target of having all our staff vaccinated by the mid-September deadline," a Uniting NSW/ACT spokesperson said.

"We are giving staff time off from their rosters and providing transport for them to attend their vaccination appointments."

For the remaining staff to rapidly become vaccinated, the current logistical processes will need to be streamlined. The way to achieve this is to have clinics established on-site.

RSL LifeCare CEO Graham Millett

Anglicare have two locations - Brian Watt Lodge (Forestville) and Marcus Loane House (Warriewood) - and a spokesperson said they were unable to provide information due to an ongoing coronial investigation into Covid deaths at its Newmarch House facility in Kingswood.

This outbreak led to 34 staff and 37 residents contracting the virus. Of those residents 19 died during the outbreak with 17 of these deaths attributed to Covid-19, a report by the NSW Ministry of Health shows. The spokesperson did however say Anglicare was supportive of mandatory vaccination in staff and frustrated by the slow rollout to the community.

RSL LifeCare CEO Graham Millett said while in support of mandatory vaccines, the staff at Anzac Village in Narrabeen have had difficulty accessing a jab due to lengthy delays at vaccination hubs.

So far, just 27 per cent of staff have had one jab, with almost 15 per cent full vaccinated.

"For the remaining staff to rapidly become vaccinated, the current logistical processes will need to be streamlined. The way to achieve this is to have clinics established on-site," he said.

At Minkara Resort in Bayview, 93 per cent of residents and 39 per cent of staff have been vaccinated and an Aveo spokeswoman said accessing vaccines has been difficult for staff.

We have engaged an external provider who will deliver an on-site clinic at Aveo Minkara to ensure that the balance of residents and staff can be vaccinated as soon as is possible.

Aveo spokeswoman

"We have engaged an external provider who will deliver an on-site clinic at Aveo Minkara to ensure that the balance of residents and staff can be vaccinated as soon as is possible," she said.

"We expect this will expedite the process and make it easier to comply with the mandatory requirements."

At Bupa Aged Care Seaforth, 17 per cent of staff and 90 per cent of residents are fully vaccinated, Bupa's regional manager Innocent Mtandabari said.

"It is vital that access to the vaccine is fast-tracked, for not only our team members, but for all health professionals and anyone, including family members, who come into regular contact with the elderly, vulnerable and sick," she said.

"For several months prior to the announcement of mandatory vaccinations, we have strongly encouraged team members to receive the vaccination and many willingly took up the spare vaccines during the resident program.

"We will continue to work closely with our team to ensure they are aware of any dedicated or fast-track options including facilitating on-site vaccinations via the government tender process which is currently underway."

Opal run four residential aged care facilities in the northern beaches including Manly Hillside, Narraweena Grove, Narrabeen Glades and Mona Vale View; while Thompson runs Avalon House, Seabeach Gardens Nursing Home and Terrey Hills Nursing Home. Wesley Mission, who runs Wesley Taylor Village in Narrabeen, also did not respond.

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