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COVID-19 in Australia

COVID-19 vaccines not mandatory for aged care workers



Residents and workers in aged care facilities will not be required to get a COVID-19 vaccination in order to remain living or working there, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.

However, the PM did not rule out making a COVID-19 vaccine compulsory for aged care workers “in the future”.

Mr Morrison and Deputy Chief Medical Officer Michael Kidd addressed the media after a meeting of National Cabinet.



Authorities ‘still learning’ about vaccines’ ability to prevent virus spread

Professor Kidd said medical experts were still learning about how effective COVID-19 vaccines might be at preventing transmission of the virus.

The Federal Government plans to roll out the Pfizer vaccine as early as mid to late February for priority groups such as aged care workers and residents, with the AstraZeneca vaccine likely to follow in March.

Aged care workers and residents are top of the queue for COVID-19 vaccines, as people in older age groups are much more susceptible to serious complications from the disease and face a much higher death rate.

In Australia, there are precedents for staff in these settings to require vaccination as a condition of employment.

Health care workers directly involved in patient care or the handling of human tissue, blood or body fluids are already asked to be vaccinated against several diseases including hepatitis B, measles, mumps, rubella, pertussis and chicken pox.


While not mandatory, Government advice says, “employers should take all reasonable steps to encourage workers to be vaccinated”.

In some states, proof of vaccination is required in healthcare settings for staff directly involved in patient care.


Sector pushing for mandatory vaccines

Some in the aged care sector have been asking for COVID-19 vaccines to be mandatory.

Chief advocate for National Seniors Australia Ian Henschke said the science was disappointing.

Mr Henschke said it was disappointing the scientific evidence regarding vaccines and the transmission of COVID-19 was not sufficient to make them mandatory.

The national peak body representing residential aged care providers, Leading Aged Services Australia (LASA), has been pushing for mandatory vaccinations for workers.

Peak body Aged and Community Services Australia (ACSA) also acknowledged the decision from National Cabinet.


Can the Government make you get a COVID-19 vaccine?

According to Dr Maria O’Sullivan from Monash University Faculty of Law, it is possible for the Government to mandate people working in aged care get vaccinated, as long as allowances are made for religious exemptions and anyone with a medical condition that meant they could not receive the jab.

She said the Federal Government had signed several human rights treaties that afforded people the right to life and the right not to have their body tampered with.

That means the Government cannot force someone to be vaccinated, but they can make it a term of their employment.

Whether visitors to aged care facilities needed to be vaccinated before being allowed to enter is a greyer area of the law.

As for mandating that aged care residents have the jab, Dr O’Sullivan said that was unlikely to happen.

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COVID-19 in Australia

Government sets up ‘myth-busting’ unit to take on Covid misinformation




Announcing the arrival of the first 300,00 doses of the new AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia on 28th Feb, Hunt revealed the departments of home affairs and health had “quietly” established the unit last year amid concerns about misinformation.

The federal government has established a “myth-busting unit” to address what health minister Greg Hunt has called “plainly ridiculous” misinformation surrounding the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccine in Australia, amid increasing concerns about the spread of false information and conspiracy theories during the pandemic.

Australia started its vaccine program on 22nd Feb with the first injections of the Pfizer vaccine.

Almost 30,000 Australians had been vaccinated since 22nd Feb, including 8110 aged care and disability residents throughout 117 care facilities.

Meanwhile, the government has kicked off a second $31 million public information campaign on the COVID-19 vaccination program.

The government’s initial advertising campaign launched in January focused on informing the Australian community about the TGA’s world-leading independent approval process.

Authorities are increasingly grappling with the growth and impact of conspiratorial thinking during the pandemic as vaccines which depend on widespread take-up to stop the spread of the virus are rolled out.

In Australia, research released by the government earlier on March found only 64% of people said they would “definitely” get the vaccine, though authorities remained confident that figure would rise significantly as the rollout progressed.


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COVID-19 in Australia

The arrival of the first doses of the AstraZeneca COVID vaccine




Australia has doubled its coronavirus vaccine stocks after hundreds of thousands of doses of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine were flown into Sydney on 28th Feb.

The federal government says it hopes the new vaccine will be going into people’s arms from Monday, March 8.

These are the first doses of the AstraZeneca jab to arrive in Australia.

They will now be batch-tested by scientists from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) before a planned rollout on March 8.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said the shipment more than doubled the nation’s number of COVID-19 vaccine doses.

Hasn’t the vaccine rollout already begun?

Australians have been getting vaccinated for the last week. However, those vaccinations have been carried out using the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. That vaccine needs to be transported and stored in ultra-cold temperatures.

By contrast, the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine can be stored at fridge temperature making it easier to distribute. The rollout of the Pfizer vaccine started in February, with 20 million doses soon to be available.

Australia has secured 53.8 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine. 28th Feb’s shipment is the first of 3.8 million doses which will be delivered from overseas. Another 50 million doses will be manufactured in Australia in monthly batches by medical giant CSL.

Most Australians will get the AstraZeneca jab, which also needs two doses, administered 12 weeks apart.


What happens now?

The TGA will now check the vaccines have been stored at the right temperature and run batch tests to ensure they meet Australia’s strict quality standards.

More shipments will follow and then in late March, the first of the CSL Australian-made, Australian-produced AstraZeneca vaccines are expected to arrive on the basis of 1 million doses per week, with approximately 2 million expected before the end of March.

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COVID-19 in Australia

Australia’s COVID vaccine rollout numbers tracking




The single biggest and most complex vaccine campaign in the nation’s history has begun.

On February 22, Australia officially joined the global race to inoculate millions of people against COVID-19. Quarantine and border workers, frontline healthcare workers, and aged and disability care residents and staff are among the first in line.

The data on this page tracks how each of the states and territories is progressing in this mammoth task, as well as how Australia compares to the rest of the world.



The government has fallen drastically short of its target for the end of February, delivering just half of the expected number of jabs, according to the latest count.

As of February 28, just 33,702 doses had been administered nationwide, according to figures from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet — far below the government’s goal of “at least 60,000 [doses] … by the end of February”.

However, figures shown on March 1 has just 53 per cent of the 63,140 doses allocated for the first week of the campaign had been delivered.

Queensland and Victoria are the furthest behind, reaching only 22 per cent and 30 per cent of their respective allocations.

Tasmania leads the pack, delivering virtually its entire allocation, followed by the ACT at 84 per cent, then NSW at 74 per cent.

The federal government, which is responsible for vaccinations in aged and disability care, has delivered 72 per cent of its share of vaccinations.

The NT has delivered 64 per cent, WA 62 per cent and SA 35 per cent.



In January, the government said its initial target for the start of the rollout was 80,000 doses a week — roughly 11,500 a day.

The longer-term target is to fully vaccinate all adults (about 20 million people) by the end of October, which means rapidly ramping up to some 200,000 doses per day.

This equates to a daily rate of around 0.77 doses per 100 people, which would outpace the peak rates in both the US (0.55 per 100) and the UK (0.65 per 100), according to international figures.

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