Date published: 
23 April 2018
Media type: 
Transcript
Audience: 
General public

23 April 2018



E&OE…



Topics: Mandatory vaccine for aged care workers to curb influenza



ALAN JONES:

So what is this story about vaccination? We’re talking about aged care, are we?



GREG HUNT:

Correct. So what we see is that last year was, exactly as you say, and every Australian knows, a terrible flu season. The flu will mutate from year to year. Last year was, not just in Australia but in many countries, a terrible outcome and we lost 1100 Australians.



And at 65 years and older, that group represented 90 per cent of those who lost their lives. So we’ve been fortunate to secure a world-leading pair of new vaccines for the over 65, and what we’ve also done is, for the first time ever, mandate that every aged care facility, every aged care facility, must provide the flu vaccine free of charge to every aged care worker.



ALAN JONES:

Okay. Now say all that again because that’s very, very important. So first point you make is - all those people dying last year from flu, but 90 per cent of the deaths were in people 65 years and over. So, you’re now mandating flu vaccinations for all workers. Now, you can’t force them to have …



GREG HUNT:

Yeah. So, what we mandate is that every aged care facility …



ALAN JONES:

Must offer. Right.



GREG HUNT:

… offers every aged care worker free flu vaccinations.



ALAN JONES:

And if they don’t, you can’t force them to be vaccinated. If they refuse vaccination, what happens next? Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Hastings, Victoria.



GREG HUNT:

Then what’s likely is that the companies or the not-for-profits, in many, many cases, will move the workers to other parts. Ultimately, there responsibility is to ensure that it’s a safe environment for the residents. Our responsibility is to ensure that the residents are protected and our highest sanction is that we can close down facilities, remove their licences. It’s an unsafe environment for residents.



ALAN JONES:

Given, though, that you’ve just said- just repeat that about the two new vaccines.



GREG HUNT:

So there are two new vaccines that we have brought in for the over 65s and these have- they’re what’s called a trivalent vaccine. That means they’ve got a double A- coverage for two different types of A strain, coverage for one type of B strain. They are world-leading vaccines. We managed to fast-track them and get them into Australia, and they’re available for every over 65 in Australia free of charge.



ALAN JONES:

Okay. Now, if people are in an aged care facility, do they automatically- are they automatically vaccinated or- I’m talking about the patients now?



GREG HUNT:

Well, they’re automatically entitled to a free vaccination. If they’re in a position to make a decision for themselves, they make that decision. If they’re not in a position to make a decision for themselves, their family make that decision.



ALAN JONES:

Now how do you police all this, given the number of nursing homes across the country?



GREG HUNT:

Well, in fact what Ken Wyatt announced only last week, that we would have a new aged care cop on the beat. So bringing together old age (inaudible) different parts of the department to have a single Aged Care Quality and Safety Commissioner, and that role will be one where it can not only receive complaints and act on them, carry out spot checks.



We’re increasing the number of spot checks. So, where there’s no expectation- I was in fact at a facility on Friday. They said they’d had a spot check only a couple of months ago. As well as the standard accreditation checks.



ALAN JONES:

Right. So now, when does all this start. When does all this start?



GREG HUNT:

Well, the spot checks- we’re already carrying out spot checks.



ALAN JONES:

But the compulsory offering to workers, when does that start?



GREG HUNT:

The new- that starts as of 1 May. Authorised by Greg Hunt MP, Liberal Party of Australia, Hastings, Victoria.



ALAN JONES:

Okay. Good on you. Good to talk. We’ve run out of time. We’ll keep in touch. A very, very important initiative.



GREG HUNT:

Thanks.



ALAN JONES:

You’re most welcome. There he is, the Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt.



(ENDS)