Chief Executive Officer of Australia’s peak age services body, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) Sean Rooney acknowledged the Government’s announcement requiring aged care providers to make flu vaccines available for aged care workers.

“Mandating aged care operators to make available influenza vaccinations for their workers will be an important tool in a mix of measures to control an influenza outbreak and lower the risk of infection,” Mr Rooney said.

“It is critically important that our entire community does everything possible to prevent the spread of influenza in order to safeguard older Australians.

“It is vital that all Australians are vigilant and exercise ongoing responsibility to reduce the risk of contracting influenza and, if people are feeling unwell and suspect they may have the influenza virus, then they should not enter an aged care facility.”

Mr Rooney said last season’s influenza virus resulted in outbreaks across the east coast of Australia with reported cases of infection in some aged care homes.

“Infectious diseases like influenza can take hold and spread quickly in locations where people are housed together,” Mr Rooney said.

“It only takes two or three residents falling ill in an aged care home to constitute an outbreak. The seriousness of these outbreaks is due to the highly contagious nature of the influenza virus.

“Many older Australians are vulnerable to illness and complications and as a result, infections such as influenza can be life threatening for some people living in aged care homes.

“We know that a vast majority of aged care providers already have robust infection control systems and processes in place that are measured against the Australian Aged Care Quality Standards.

“Consistent with numerous Australian workplaces, the majority of age services providers also already provide annual influenza vaccinations for their workforce.”

LASA looks forward to working closely with government at all levels on preventing any further outbreaks occurring and improving the counter measures already in place to mitigate influenza outbreaks.

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