VIP vaccine access for aged care, disability workers

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All aged care and disability workers can jump the queue at mass vaccination centres from Wednesday, with the Victorian government finalising a “fast track” scheme to speed the roll-out of COVID-19 jabs.

The Victorian government has written to private aged and disability care providers informing them that from June 2, any employees who declare themselves to work in these critically exposed sectors will be able to quickly access a vaccine at any state-run centre.

Staff are seen preparing vaccine doses inside the Melbourne Exhibition Centre COVID-19 Vaccination Centre.Credit:Getty Images

The new access scheme, developed in response to concerns that low vaccination rates among private sector aged care workers had allowed Victoria’s latest outbreak to infect staff at two nursing homes, is intended to sandbag a gaping hole in the state’s COVID defences.

Aged and disability care express lanes will be opened at 38 vaccination centres across Victoria.

“This is Commonwealth space but they just haven’t delivered,” a Victorian government source who was not permitted to speak publicly said. “We are giving them a fast-track ticket, like a theme park, so they can jump the queue.”

The VIP access follows a National Cabinet agreement on 27 April that aged care workers not been inoculated through the Commonwealth’s limited “in-reach” program in private nursing homes should be given access to vaccines at state-run clinics.

Despite all aged care staff being eligible to receive a vaccine as 1a category workers, there are concerns that not enough have sought to access a jab.

Federal Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck told a Senate estimates committee on Tuesday morning that, although residents in all private nursing homes in Victoria had been offered a first dose vaccination, the federal government did not know how many aged care staff had been inoculated.

The parliamentary hearing was told that once the government received health advice that aged care residents and staff shouldn’t be vaccinated at the same time, it “pivoted” its roll-out towards residents and away from staff.

Two workers at the Arcare residential aged care centre in Maidstone and an employee at the Blue Cross Western Gardens centre in Sunshine have tested positive to COVID-19.

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