'Rightfully anxious': Decision on mandatory vax for aged care workers must extend to disability
The decision taken by National Cabinet to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for people working within residential aged care is a responsible step in Australia’s fight against COVID-19, National Disability Services Senior State and Territory Manager Karen Stace says.
National Disability Services (NDS) is calling for that same step to be introduced to protect Australia’s vulnerable people with disability, supply of the Pfizer vaccine permitting.
“The vulnerability of people with disability was recognised by the Federal Government when people with disability were included in phases 1a and 1b of the vaccine rollout,” Ms Stace says.
“That same recognition now must extend to vaccination policy by similarly mandating the vaccine in the disability sector. It just makes sense.”
The fact that some people with disability are more likely to have comorbidity, leaving them especially vulnerable to the worst impacts of the virus, including death, has been noted by the Commonwealth Department of Health.
NDS’s established position on vaccination within the disability sector includes a call for all Australian Governments to mandate approved vaccines – with legislated exemptions in place.
“Our members are rightfully anxious that the virus could needlessly take hold within our communities.”
NDS’s call for mandatory vaccines is tempered only by the question of adequate supplies being available and an engaging education campaign stepping out the dramatic benefits of vaccination, serving to overcome vaccine hesitancy.
“A ruling of ‘no jab, no work’, can’t be enforced if people are unable to reasonably access a vaccine,” said Ms Stace.
“If the Government moves to introduce mandatory vaccines within the disability sector then the next step will be to work collaboratively on an implementation plan that works across the provider network.”