By Andrew Wicks
Today we discovered that no-one knows how many aged care workers have been vaccinated.
It seems that we do not know how many aged care workers had been vaccinated, as there seems to be no-one keeping track of who has received the vaccine, and who hasn’t. According to the Department of Health, work is now “underway” to survey aged care workers at the nation’s facilities (read: literally counting heads).
The question, of course, is who is responsible for this monumental cock up. According to Aged Care Minister Richard Colbeck, it’s not him. Fronting a senate committee this morning, Colbeck was asked by Senator Katy Gallagher whether he thought he was responsible, yes or no. Colbeck proclaimed that it wasn’t “a yes or no answer.”
Elsewhere, Premier of New South Wales Gladys Berejiklian said she did not know how many aged care workers in NSW has been vaccinated against COVID-19, as such information would be kept by the federal government.
Fronting the media this morning, Simon Birmingham told ABC News Breakfast; “I do accept that it has not gone as we would have hoped.”
However, Birmingham was quick to shift blame, stating that the rollout was primarily hampered by the availability of vaccines.
Simon Birmingham has admitted the federal government’s vaccine rollout has not gone as the Commonwealth had hoped, but says the rollout continues to be hampered by international availability of vaccines. The took it further, claiming that the reason why 600 aged care facilities haven’t been vaccinated was primarily down the 12 weeks period between jabs with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Yet, prior to the rollout, residents and workers in aged and disability care were told that they’d receive the vaccine within the first six weeks.
As journalist Christopher Knaus noted:
“… a key area of responsibility for the federal government is vaccinating aged care staff and residents who are both in the highest priority group for vaccinations – phase 1a. Initially, the government said it had planned to complete phase 1a within roughly six weeks of the program’s commencement on 22 February. That included vaccinating 190,000 aged and disability care residents and 318,000 aged care and disability staff.”
With a week to go until that deadline, the government explained that they’d vaccinated 99,000 residents, but failed to explain how many staff received the jab.
“We know we aren’t where we want to be but we don’t know where we are,” Gerard Hayes, secretary of the Health Services Union in NSW, said of record-keeping in the sector’s “haphazard” rollout.
In early April, Health Minister Greg Hunt said that the program was “accelerating as intended” and “We were conservative in our estimates.”
Hunt also mentioned that; “… we remain on track to complete first doses for all Australians who seek it by the end of October.”
As The Big Smoke reported:
“Pre-rollout, Prime Minister Scott Morrison suggested the rollout capacity will start at around 80,000 doses per week and increase from there. That’s 16,000 a day (over five-day weeks), well short of the required 200,000 a day. The planned peak capacity hasn’t been announced, but even back-of-the-beer-mat calculation would suggest a minimum of 167,000 vaccines per day to give two doses each to 20 million Australians in the eight months between March and October 2021. The longer it takes to reach such capacity, the higher that daily number will get – or we will not reach the target vaccination percentage this year.”
In conversation with The Guardian, The Council on the Ageing chief executive, Ian Yates, claimed that the government overpromised, and now, clearly underdelivered the vaccine. Yates also highlighted the lack of a plan for vaccinating aged care workers a month into the rollout.
“My sense is that, by and large, although there are patches, the vaccination of residents is now proceeding. But there’s no clarity around the timetable and process for the vaccination of aged care workers, and that is of concern… vaccination of the staff is really important to the Covid security of residents, and we are concerned that the vaccination of staff doesn’t seem to have a clear strategy at this point,” Yates said.
As The Age noted:
“… unions representing aged care workers in Australia believe fewer than 15 per cent of the national workforce could be vaccinated. Australian Council of Trade Unions secretary Sally McManus said the survey proposal highlighted ‘how poorly planned this rollout is’, adding that requiring aged care workers to find their own vaccinations rather than providing them at their workplace could be acting as a deterrent.”
This article was originally published on The Big Smoke.
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