House debates

Tuesday, 31 August 2021

Questions without Notice

COVID-19: Aged Care

2:48 pm

Photo of Anthony AlbaneseAnthony Albanese (Grayndler, Australian Labor Party, Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Prime Minister. The Prime Minister announced that all aged-care workers would have had at least one COVID dose by 17 September. But today New South Wales health minister Brad Hazzard said he is 'not at all confident that will happen'. Will the Prime Minister ensure that all aged-care workers receive a vaccine by 17 September to protect them but also to protect the people in their care?

2:49 pm

Photo of Scott MorrisonScott Morrison (Cook, Liberal Party, Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

The Minister for Health and Aged Care will add to this answer. I can confirm that the first dose outcomes for aged-care workers currently are 78.8 per cent and the second dose outcomes are 56.7 per cent. Importantly, for those they look after, aged-care residents, first doses are 89 per cent and second doses are 84.4 per cent. The primary reason that we are not seeing the same level of fatality as we saw during the Victorian outbreak has principally been the vaccinations that were undertaken as the top priority of getting to every single residential aged-care facility in this country and vaccinating those residents. We know that alone has saved hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of lives, and I want to thank all those inreach teams that made it their priority to do that. There are still challenges with the inreach to reach all of those aged-care workers, but General Frewen and his team continue to work diligently to that end. I will ask the minister to add to the answer.

2:50 pm

Photo of Greg HuntGreg Hunt (Flinders, Liberal Party, Minister for Health and Aged Care) Share this | | Hansard source

To add to the Prime Minister's answer, he is correct that two fundamental outcomes of the last year have been 89 per cent of residents around Australia having been vaccinated, and we continue to encourage all of families to ensure that they do give consent for their elderly relatives to be vaccinated. It's absolutely fundamental. Equally, we want to encourage every one of the aged-care workers to take up the opportunity. Every aged-care worker will have that opportunity. We have done what other jurisdictions have not, but which they are now considering with regard to healthcare workers, and on the medical advice we did put in place a requirement that all aged-care workers, unless they have an exemption, do have vaccination as a workplace requirement.

What that has done has seen a skyrocketing of rates. There has been a significant period of access, since March, for aged-care workers. What we have done though is supplement that with a combination of general practice, pharmacy, state clinics, Commonwealth vaccination clinics—39 hubs around Australia—and now in terms of the other channels that are available we have the inreach channels in particular. A thousand onsite clinics at residential aged-care facilities have been delivered, 670 onsite clinics organised by residential aged-care providers themselves. We also have 585 onsite clinics delivered by GPs or Commonwealth vaccination clinics. All of these are giving every aged-care worker the opportunity to be vaccinated. (Time expired)