Aged care facility forced into lockdown

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    Menarock LIFE aged care in Heathmont is reportedly in lockdown after a staff member was confirmed as a primary contact of a confirmed case. The Age reports that an all-staff email confirmed the connection, with the site going into lockdown just before 6pm last night. “I can assure you we are doing everything possible to minimize any effect on our close-knit community,” the email from facility management reads.

    The facility has declined to comment. It follows other lockdowns at BlueCross Western Gardens aged care facility in Sunshine and Arcare Maidstone Aged Care Facility. The news comes amid new figures confirming that less than 10 percent of the nation’s senior care workers are fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, prompting a warning that “lives are at risk”.

    The Department of Health revealed that only 32,833 aged care workers have received two jabs of the vaccine. More than 300,000 Australians are working in the aged care sector. The new figures also confirm that 39,874 aged care workers have secured one dose.

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    After nearly five hours of being unable to answer how many aged care workers were vaccinated, the Department provided a table to Senate estimates just after noon yesterday. Disturbingly, the data reveals that thousands of aged care workers in Victoria are not vaccinated. The state battles a fresh outbreak that has already found its way into nursing homes via staff.

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    Professor Kathy Eagar, Director of AHSRI Australian Health Services Research Institute, told the ABC that less than 10 percent of aged care staff were fully vaccinated and criticized the federal government for no longer accepting responsibility. “Aged care workers were a top priority … and somehow along the way, they got forgotten,” she said.

    Authorities have also announced a five-day vaccination “blitz”, prioritizing those working in vulnerable professions, including aged care, following recent backlash to poor vaccination rates among those working with the elderly.

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