By Oliver Lees
A workers union is calling on the federal government to hasten its vaccine roll-out for staff working in hospitals and aged care facilities across the state.
The Victorian branch of the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF) is “urgently” asking the federal government pass responsibility for vaccinating the sector on to the Victorian government, as the current roll-out “ignores the brutal aged care lessons” of the pandemic.
A survey conducted by ANMF over the Easter long weekend found 86 per cent of their private aged care staff members were yet to receive a vaccination, despite their priority status as most at-risk in category 1a.
ANMF Victorian branch secretary Lisa Fitzpatrick said the state government was more capable of facilitating the roll-out, given that the “vast majority” of the state’s public aged care workforce has been vaccinated.
“The Morrison government must prioritise vaccination of private aged care staff at work given the hundreds of resident deaths in this sector last year,” she said.
“They saw Prime Minister Scott Morrison receive his vaccination seven weeks ago and thought the government cared about them because they were included in the most at-risk phase 1a category.”
As reported by Star Weekly, Japara Goonawarra Aged Care residents received their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine on April 8, following a month of delays.
All residents at the home – which was one of the worst affected in the state with 20 COVID-related deaths – received their jab, however the staff remain unvaccinated.
Opposition aged care services spokeswoman Clare O’Neil visited Goonawarra on April 9. She said the fact staff remain unvaccinated was a “slap in the face” for aged care residents that deserve peace of mind.
“Across the country aged care residents are anxious, highly anxious,” Ms O’Neil said.
“There’s been a lot of mixed messaging from the federal government and it’s really unfair.”
McEwen MP Rob Mitchell also visited the centre and said the current roll-out approach didn’t add up.
“If the virus is going to come from anywhere it’s from the staff,” he said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison took to Facebook on April 11 to defend his government’s position.
“It’s also important to note that more than 142,000 doses have been administered to our aged care residents, in more than 1,000 facilities,” he said.