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Coronavirus vaccines may be made mandatory for aged care workers

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

The Australian government has not ruled out making coronavirus vaccines mandatory for workers in aged care centres.

The Australian government has not ruled out making coronavirus vaccines mandatory for workers in aged care centres.

Health Department Secretary Brendan Murphy said mandatory vaccination was something Australia committee of chief health officers was "considering on a regular basis".

"We are waiting until we have data on the transmissibility of the virus in vaccinated people," he said.

"If it is very effective, as we expect, at preventing transmission, once we have an opportunity for all of the workers to be vaccinated, that is something that will be reconsidered."

READ MORE: Pfizer vaccine likely to 'retain effectiveness' against some variants

Minister for Health and Aged Care Greg Hunt and Secretary of the Department of Health Professor Brendan Murphy.

Aged care residents are likely to receive the Pfizer vaccine, but workers at aged care centres are likely to get the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Professor Murphy has described the pending vaccine rollout as "a really, really exciting time".

"We are about to start the single-biggest, and most complex, vaccination task in the history of this nation," he said.

"There are so many players involved and there's so much planning."

Professor Murphy said his mantra was to get Australia vaccinated as safely and quickly as possible.

Vaccinating border and quarantine workers is the "single highest priority" for the inoculation rollout.

"We believe that vaccinating the quarantine and border workers will substantially protect them from transmission, we hope, but certainly from getting symptomatic COVID," Professor Murphy said.

"The quarantine and border workers are the single most high-risk group at the moment, because, as we've seen in recent months and recent weeks, that is where COVID is in Australia at the moment.

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"It's in returning travellers in quarantine."

READ MORE: Australia's coronavirus vaccination program begins crucial week

Frontline workers including nurses will be among the first to get the coronavirus vaccine in NSW.

Frontline healthcare workers and people living in residential aged and disability care are the next priorities.

The vaccine rollout will begin on Monday.

Minimising wastage

NSW Health has said it does not have the right syringes to get all of the coronavirus vaccine from the vials.

The Pfizer vaccine vials contain enough for six shots, but each shot under a standard syringe involves a few drops of wastage because of "dead space".

Consequently, even though the vials contain enough vaccine for six shots, only five will be able to be used.

Doses of the Pfizer vaccine will be administered from Monday.

"The standard syringes, which are widely used and which we have supplied in great quantities, they can't guarantee to get six doses," Dr Murphy said.

"We have a modest sum of low dead space syringes that will come in the future.

"We will monitor wastage very closely, especially with the precious early doses."

Health workers have been told to use up all the coronavirus vaccine each day rather than let it go to waste.

The policy will mean a lucky few people can get the leftover shots even if they aren't on the high priority list.

"If there are carers or nurses or other people who aren't in the target group but who are present, we don't want them to be wasted," Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

"We want to give people the freedom to be practical Australians, to make sure they are able to minimise any wastage."

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In certain parts of the US, doctors and nurses have been rebuked and even sacked for administering coronavirus doses to non-priority patients to stop the vaccines expiring.

Source: 9News

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