Aged care staff and nurses could face action from their employers if they refuse to have a flu vaccine, according to a new report.
The Daily Telegraph claims staff could be moved to different wards or even banned from shifts if they decline a free vaccine which is now being made mandatory on all wards.
The government’s health department previously confirmed more than 90 per cent of the 1,100 flu related deaths in 2017 were people aged over 65.
Now, in a bid to ensure it never happens again, Health Minister Greg Hunt and Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt have announced it will be mandatory for “every aged-care provider to offer the flu vaccine to every single worker”.
While they haven’t stated whether action will be taken against those who refuse, the publication reports there could be employment barriers put in place.
Meanwhile, new data from a recent government review has revealed aged care homes where only a quarter of staff were vaccinated had 25 per cent more flu outbreaks than those with three-quarters vaccinated.
“This is why we are taking strong action to ensure the safety of senior Australians in aged care,” Wyatt said in a statement.
“Vaccination is imperative for staff and residents in aged care, where the flu can have devastating consequences.”
The government recently announced it had rolled out a free influenza vaccine for more than 4.5 million Australians who are most at risk of getting sick during this year’s flu season.
“Those who are eligible for a free flu shot under the National Immunisation Program include people aged 65 years and over, most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and those who suffer from chronic conditions,” Hunt said in a statement.
He added: “Two new ground-breaking flu vaccines are now available for Australians aged over 65. These are specifically targeted at this age group, offering stronger doses and now available for the first time in Australia.”
Starts at 60 has contacted Ken Wyatt for comment.