Minister Richard Colbeck refused to set a date by which all aged care workers will be vaccinated, with providers set to start reporting just how many employees have had the jab this week.
In the first question time since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Melbourne found its way into the aged care system again, Senator Colbeck was forced to defend the sluggish rollout in aged care facilities.
"We've had to reset the vaccination process for the residential aged care workforce, because of health advice that we've we've received with respect to vaccinating the workforce and the residents at the same time," Senator Colbeck said.
And also, of course, Mr President, the utilisation of the AstraZeneca vaccine for those 50 and over, and, of course, a preference for the Pfizer vaccine for those under 50."
Senator Colbeck said staff were able to get vaccinated at state-run vaccination hubs, as well as at GP clinics, and on-site when there were leftover doses when residents were offered their second dose.
"Every aged care worker who wants to access a vaccine right now, has access to a vaccine right now," Senator Colbeck said, trying to push the focus back on to states and territories.
"They're begging they've been given priority access to that vaccine by this by states and territories."
Last week the government was forced to extend the closing date for submissions to its tender process for the rollout of the vaccines in aged care until the end of the month, and ministers have conceded the rollout in the sector is likely to drag on with "mopping up" visits needed for new residents and those who may have missed out in the first vaccination visits.
Aged care centres will begin reporting how many of their staff are vaccinated to the government this week.
On Monday, Health Minister Greg Hunt said 86,353 workers had at least had one dose of vaccine, of which 46,201 were fully vaccinated.
It's estimated there are more than 360,000 people working in the sector.
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