A Victorian aged care provider has revealed it offered to vaccinate all of its staff and residents across 24 nursing homes earlier this year but was turned down by the federal government.
- Mercy Health operates 24 nursing homes in regional and metropolitan Victoria
- A spokesperson says the federal government refused an offer in February to vaccinate all staff and residents over a six-week period
- Four months on, less than half of Mercy Health’s aged care workforce has been vaccinated
A Mercy Health spokesperson said the provider approached the Commonwealth in February, saying it could inoculate its nursing home staff and residents in a six-week window if the federal government provided the vaccines.
The proposal included using clinical workers from Mercy Health’s two hospitals to provide the COVID-19 vaccinations.
A Mercy Health spokesperson said the federal government rejected the offer, saying it preferred “to use its own workforce”.
Four months on from the approach, the ABC understands that about 80 per cent of residents have been vaccinated but well below half of the staff have been.
The vaccine roll-out in the federally managed aged care sector has come under fire in senate estimates hearings and from the Victorian government, with the latter dealing with another COVID-19 outbreak that has made its way into aged care facilities.
A federal government spokesperson says Mercy Health was “one respondent to a targeted tender process for approved providers who wished to vaccinate their workforce”.
The spokesperson said Mercy Health’s submission was denied due to “risks … that the Department did not consider acceptable”.
Mercy Health, which operates nursing homes in regional and metropolitan Victoria, welcomed yesterday’s state government announcement of priority vaccine access for aged care workers.
“Many of Mercy Place aged care Victorian residents have now received both their vaccinations while at other homes the second round vaccinations will be occurring in the coming weeks,” a spokesperson said.
“The take-up among residents has been high, and when there were surplus vaccines they were also offered to staff.
“All staff have been strongly urged to access vaccinations from appropriate clinics and other available locations.”