15 February 2021
Dear Mercy Health residents and families,
COVID-19 vaccination for aged care residents
The Australian Government is almost ready to begin delivering the COVID-19 vaccine. Aged care residents and staff will be among the first Australians to be offered the vaccine. This is because people living in residential aged care are more vulnerable to the virus.
While the Government is still working through the finer details of the vaccination rollout, Mercy Health wants to make sure our residents and their families are as informed as possible.
Is the vaccine safe?
Australia has contracts in place to distribute two different COVID-19 vaccines: the Pfizer vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine. Aged care residents will most likely receive the Pfizer vaccine, which has been approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
The Pfizer vaccine has undergone extensive testing and is considered safe for use. For more information, please refer to the attached information sheet from the Australian Government.
Where and when will I receive the vaccine?
The vaccine will be delivered to aged care homes so that residents and staff can receive their vaccination on site from skilled immunisation teams. Because there are so many aged care homes around the country, it will take some time for the vaccine to be delivered to all homes.
Both vaccines require two doses. That means immunisers will come to our home twice.
Mercy Health will let you know as soon as we have a confirmed date for the first round of vaccinations at your home. Please note, there may be very little warning before immunisers arrive. We will try to give you as much notice as possible.
How do I consent to the vaccination?
Vaccination is safe, free and voluntary. We hope that all of our residents will take the opportunity to get vaccinated. The greater our vaccination rate, the more protected we are individually and as a community.
However, if you have any concerns about the vaccine or you would prefer to opt out of receiving the vaccine, please speak to the Manager of the home.
We will share more information from the Department of Health about consent for the vaccination as soon as this is available.
Once residents and staff have received the vaccination, will life return to normal at our home?
Tests have shown that people who receive the vaccine are less likely to experience serious illness if they are infected with coronavirus. At this stage, we do not know how effective the vaccines are against community spread.
That means even once we have been vaccinated, we will need to continue doing all the things we have learned to do so well over the past year. This includes maintaining a physical distance from others, washing our hands regularly, getting tested if we are sick and wearing a mask when required.
If you would like to find out more about the COVID-19 vaccine program, please visit the Department of Health website: health.gov.au/initiatives-and-programs/covid-19-vaccines
I know this is a lot of information to take in. Last year, we could only dream that scientists would find a vaccine that could help curb the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. We are fortunate that a vaccine is now available.
Thank you for everything that you have done over the past year to help prevent or stop the spread of coronavirus at your residential aged care home and within the community. Getting ahead of this virus is a team effort and I am grateful for your ongoing support.
If you have any questions or concerns, please speak to the Manager at your home.
Residential Aged Care, Home Care Services and Seniors Living
Last reviewed February 15, 2021.