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Federal Government attempts to shift the blame for the failed aged care vaccination program on to aged care workers are nothing short of despicable, United Workers Union Aged Care Director Carolyn Smith said today.

“It is disgraceful that aged care workers are being dragged into an argument about whether vaccinations should be made mandatory,” Ms Smith said.

“The truth of the matter is aged care workers have been left out of the vaccination program altogether – they simply have not had the option of getting the vaccine at all.

“Health Minister Greg Hunt and Prime Minister Scott Morrison are making a political play to escape responsibility for their failed aged care vaccination program.

“Given what we are once again seeing in aged care in Victoria, states outside Victoria should be rightly concerned that aged care workers across the country are largely unvaccinated.

“We are risking a national tragedy when Aged Care Services Minister Richard Colbeck can’t even give a figure on the number of aged care workers who have been vaccinated.

“But it’s not about whether vaccinations should be mandatory.

“As United Workers Union has documented repeatedly, the vaccination program has completely failed to reach aged care workers, and has largely left them to get vaccinated on their own time.

“We have documented that the original plan for in-reach services failed to offer aged care workers a vaccination – staff were given leftovers or were told to seek their own vaccinations.

“Last month we found of 254 aged care workers we surveyed, 85 per cent had not received their first vaccination.

“We have also seen that the alternative program of pop-ups has resulted in fully three being established – and all of those in Sydney.

“Once again the Morrison Government has completely refused to take responsibility for older Australians and those who care for them.

“It’s devastating to think that the very real possibility of a Covid-19 breakout entering aged care facilities still hangs over older Australians and aged care workers due to the failed vaccine rollout program.

“It’s not a matter of making vaccines mandatory – it’s a matter of giving aged care workers the opportunity to be vaccinated.”