The ACTU understands the Prime Minister will pressure state and territory leaders today to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for aged care workers. This decision should be made by public health experts, based on the best scientific and medical advise and not by politicians seeking to distract from the ongoing cost of a failed vaccine rollout.
Aged care workers want to get vaccinated but have faced broken promises, poor communication and significant financial obstacles to getting access to the vaccine. The Morrison Government should be focusing on getting more vaccines and providing in-workplace vaccinations to ensure that no worker, in particular low paid and casual workers, has to give up shifts or pay to get the jab.
Aged care workers were in the highest priority group, they were meant to be vaccinated in their workplace by April. The Government has had five months and has now abandoned workplace vaccinations, leaving hundreds of thousands of aged care workers not vaccinated.
The ongoing failure of this rollout has caused the lockdowns across the country and is putting the recovery and lives at risk.
Quotes attributable to ACTU Secretary Sally McManus:
“The vaccine rollout is the number one job of the Morrison Government, it is our only way to break out of where we are now, protect people, save jobs and get back to some sort of normal. Australia was in the best position to get this job done and it has been squandered by this Government. We have gone from first to last.
“The only people to blame are the Morrison Government. Not the Australian people who continue to endure lockdowns, losing jobs and business and certainly not hardworking aged care workers who are on the front line.
“Decisions about mandatory vaccination should be made by the public health experts alone, it is completely inappropriate for the Morrison Government to be exerting influence on this process to distract from their failures to secure enough vaccines.
“If the Morrison Government wants aged care workers vaccinated, they should keep their promise to visit every aged care home and offer it to them, and ensure casual workers are supported if they cannot work because of side effects. They should have been doing this from February and if they had, no doubt 90 per cent of the aged care workforce would be vaccinated by now.
“It is ridiculous and cynical to mandate vaccines that many people simply cannot get because our Government did not secure enough supply and has failed to deliver vaccinations to workplaces. They have shown no urgency to get the job done. The blame lies squarely with them and not frontline, hardworking aged care workers.”