Give our elderly a boost: vulnerable aged care residents deserve the best possible COVID protection | AMA (WA)

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Give our elderly a boost: vulnerable aged care residents deserve the best possible COVID protection

Thursday February 17, 2022

Australian Medical Association (WA)

The AMA (WA) acknowledges the important role of aged care residents in society, and the contribution of their hard-earned tax dollars to the way of life and medical system that we now enjoy.
Aged care residents are at a high risk of severe COVID-19, and their best protection is vaccination.

As of January 2022, 90 per cent of aged care residents had two doses of vaccination, but the level of booster vaccination that gives a significantly greater reduced risk of severe disease is not known. Aged care residents were nearly 100 times more likely to die than the normal population in the 2020 outbreaks (309 per 100,000, vs. 3.6)

The prevention of severe COVID and outbreaks in aged care has a basic philosophy, the same as all COVID care and prevention: that is, ‘vaccination plus’. The ‘plus’ includes, for example, personal hygiene, fresh air, ventilation, staff not working multiple jobs, visitor policies, use of N95 masks in an outbreak (staff and residents), and isolation.

COVID transmission and death rates have shown us the vulnerability of aged care residents for rapid spread of COVID, severe disease and death. In the eastern states in 2022, the Australian Defence Force has been called in to assist with aged care.

This occurs against the background of the 2021 Royal Commission into Aged Care, suggesting Australia was not coming off a high initial level of care.

In 2020, three-quarters of all COVID deaths were in aged care (685 of 910). In January 2022, 1,100 aged care homes in Australia had COVID outbreaks. In 2022, up to 14 January, there were 37 deaths. Between then and 2 February, there were 471 deaths in aged care, a marked acceleration.

Comments attributed to AMA (WA) President Dr Mark Duncan-Smith:

“We call on all the loved ones of aged care residents to contact the aged care facility they reside in, and establish the vaccine status of your loved ones. If they are not vaccinated, we strongly urge you to have the conversation with them and to get them vaccinated.

If they are due their booster, take steps to ensure they get their booster ASAP, and do not rely on state or federal programs to get this done.”

“The responsibility for aged care at an administrative level rests with the Federal Government. When an aged care resident gets COVID, if it gets severe and their advanced care plan allows transfer to a tertiary hospital, it is then a state government responsibility to care for them. This duality of responsibility, unfortunately, potentially also allows each level of government to use the other as a scapegoat.”

“We have recently called on the State Government to take the lead on aged care COVID readiness in WA with a booster audit, development of clinical pathways, lines of communication and a program to maximise boosters as soon as possible for WA’s aged care residents. Before it is too late.”

ENDS


Please contact AMA (WA) Media via email media@amawa.com.au for further information on this issue.