By Adam Kahlberg

In order to control influenza outbreaks in aged care or other residential care facilities, many states have historically required employees (and visitors) of care facilities to be immunized against the virus. In 2020, given the COVID-19 outbreak and associated risks to health and safety, most states mandated the vaccine for employees and visitors to residential aged care facilities. However, this year, there is more variation regarding the requirements to have a ‘flu vax’ in aged care facilities. Below is a summary of the current state-by-state requirements for aged care workers and care facility workers.

Victoria

Under the VIC Care Facilities Direction (No 26), there is currently no requirement for a worker in a care facility to have the influenza vaccine.

NSW

As per the advice of the NSW Chief Health Officer, there is currently no requirement to have the influenza vaccine.

Queensland

Under the QLD Aged Care Direction (No 26), from the 31st of May 2021, employees are required to have the influenza vaccine if the vaccine is available to the person. The vaccine will be considered unavailable if there is a medical contraindication or if the employee is currently in a recommended waiting period between obtaining the COVID vaccine and influenza vaccine.

ACT

Under the ACT Public Health (Residential Aged Care Facilities) Emergency Direction 2021 (No 2), employees are required to have the influenza vaccine, unless the vaccine is not available due to an issue with supply or they have a documented contraindication to the influenza vaccine as defined in the Australian Immunisation Handbook, Australian Government Department of Health, Canberra 2018.

South Australia

Under the Emergency Management (Residential Aged Care Facilities No 34) (COVID-19) Direction 2021, employees are required to have the influenza vaccine by 1 June 2021.

Northern Territory

Under the NT Directions No 40 Directions for Aged Care Facilities, employees are required to have the influenza vaccine if it is readily available. The vaccine will be considered unavailable if there is a medical contraindication. 

Western Australia

Under the WA Aged Care Directions No 7, employees are required to have the influenza vaccine unless it is not reasonably available to the person or they have a documented medical contraindication to the vaccine from 23 February 2021.

Tasmania 

Under TAS Direction No 11 Residential Aged Care Facilities, there is currently no requirement to have the influenza vaccine, although it is strongly encouraged.

Please note that the directions in each state are subject to change and businesses should ensure they stay up to date with the most recent health advice.

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Adam Kahlberg is a Workplace Relations Advisor at our parent company FCB Group and HR Assured. Adam supports and advises HR Assured’s business clients on a range of employment relations matters via the Telephone Advisory Service.