CANBERRA, Australia — Disabled Australians living in group homes may need to wait for aged care residents to be fully vaccinated before receiving their first dose.
Several large disability service providers are concerned many of their clients have not received a Covid-19 vaccine, despite being included in the highest priority group of the national rollout. Despite calls from disability advocates to make vaccination mandatory for disability care workers, the national medical expert panel has only been “recommending” vaccines for the group.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the vaccine rollout in disability care was being completed as quickly as possible.
“We’re about halfway through those residential groups and will be having in-reach services, particularly once we’ve been able to get two doses to every aged care facility across the country,” he said.
“They’re a highly disparate group amongst the community. They’re in a lot of different places and are largely in small groups in these facilities.”
Morrison said it was not a simple exercise.
“It really is quite a painstaking exercise.”
The prime minister was concerned the virus would sweep through vulnerable disabled and Indigenous communities.
“We haven’t seen the Covid virus impact those communities like we feared,” Morrison said.
“That is a great tribute to all the health workers and all those who work in those sectors.”
Covid-19 vaccines are not yet compulsory for workers in disability care.
But if vaccination rates do not improve by August, a national panel of medical experts will consider making it mandatory in high-risk settings.
Morrison and state leaders in late June agreed to mandate at least one dose of the vaccine for workers in the aged care sector. However, the government has stopped short of bringing disabled care workers under the same umbrella.
Later, last week on July 9, Morrison said there was no federal decision in the works to do so.
“The medical expert panel that dealt with the vaccination of disability care workers, while they are not at this point recommending mandating vaccines for disability care workers, they are strongly recommending it,” he said.
“With the corporate program that will be used to incentive vaccinations for aged care workers, we will extend that to disability care workers as well.”
The government has plans to incentivize corporate-sector vaccination programs to streamline the rollout targeted to aged care and disability workers.
Disability workers may be required to receive their first dose by October 31 in order to keep their jobs.
(Edited by Vaibhav Pawar and Krishna Kakani)
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