Chief Executive Officer of Australia’s peak age services body, Leading Age Services Australia (LASA) Sean Rooney said the aged care industry’s thoughts and sympathies are with those who have been affected by the recent outbreaks of influenza virus in Victoria and Tasmania age care homes.

“Operationally, we are currently seeing influenza outbreaks across the east coast of Australia with reported cases of infection in some aged care homes. Infectious diseases like influenza often occur in the wider community 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 and its ability to quickly spread.

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

Mr Rooney said LASA strongly advocates for the health, community and accommodation needs of older Australians, and we work with government and other stakeholders to advance not only the interests of all age service providers but also the interests of older Australians in their care.

“It is in this spirit that LASA will engage with the government and appropriate agencies to safeguard older Australians, the age care industry and its workforce against influenza infection,” Mr Rooney said.

“Consistent with many Australian workplaces, many age service providers already provide influenza vaccinations for their workforce.

“Mandatory influenza vaccinations for the workforce in aged care may be an important tool in a mix of measures to control an outbreak or risk of infection.”

Mr Rooney said what is critically important is that we act straight away to contain the spread of any influenza outbreaks and safeguard other residents, staff and the community from becoming ill.

“As members of the community, it is vital that we be vigilant and exercise our ongoing responsibility to ensure that if we are feeling unwell and suspect we may have the influenza virus, we do not enter an aged care facility.

“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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