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. Guess what happened next.
In response to the spectacular failure of the vaccine rollout (where the federal government blamed the states, an interesting reverse of containing COVID-19, which was done by the states, but the federal government took the credit), it seems that the program took another shot, as it seems that the commonwealth health department managed to vaccinate half of Australia’s aged and disability care residents it said it would. The kicker is that they were first in line, and purportedly, would be entirely vaccinated after the first six weeks. Indeed, only 834 disability residents in care have been vaccinated, representing around 4% of the population.
David Moody, of National Disability Services, has told the royal commission there are about 23,000 people living in residential disability care. He also noted an industry survey found there were about 51,000 support workers, though it did not cover every provided.
Taking the vaccine rollout figures provided earlier today, the commissioner, Ronald Sackville, said: “But if it is correct that people with disability in residential care amounted to 23,000, that would be around about 4% that had been vaccinated? That’s your understanding?”
Moody confirmed that that percentage was accurate.
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.”
So far (and with a week left to go), they’ve confirmed vaccinating 99,000 residents, but neglected to mention how many staff have received either jab.
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, despite being 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.