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Government orders nursing homes to offer staff flu shots

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Aged-care homes must offer their staff a flu vaccination this year, following orders from the Federal Government.

Aged Care Minister Ken Wyatt announced the new immunisation policy late in April, in the lead-up to what is expected to be another dangerous flu season this winter.

Last year, more than 1000 people, mostly aged over 65, died from influenza-related complications.

In announcing the new move, Mr Wyatt said only 91 of 2600 aged-care facilities provided the acceptable level of vaccination rates last year.

He said the Government has had to step in with stricter rules in order to try and prevent a repeat in nursing home flu deaths this year.

Workers in aged-care facilities can’t be forced to be vaccinated, but it will be compulsory for their employers to offer the shots.

“What right does a senior, frail Australian have to be protected from someone who chooses not to (get vaccinated) and then ends up with a virulent flu that then causes their death?” Mr Wyatt said.

“There will be some individuals who will take a stand but, then again, that is up to the provider to make a decision in respect to that individual. They can move staff to other locations.”

The Government’s stipulation is that a vaccination rate of 95 per cent is needed among nursing home staff, but very few maintain that level.

The Minister also asked family and friends visiting nursing homes to get flu shots as well.