Dear staff member
I am writing to address two issues, one of which relates specifically to people younger than 50 years of age:
- The Pfizer vaccine for Covid 19; and
- A new health directive that says we all have to have the 2021 flu vaccine.
The threat posed by Covid
You should not be complacent about the threat of Covid. Many of us have links with other countries where Covid is a major, real time threat to life, and that should help us realise that we have to look at what is happening around the world to understand what we need to learn. We live in an isolated part of the world but the recent example of a couple of people in Sydney testing positive for Covid 19 is a reminder that Covid has not gone away here and it will not go away until a very large proportion of the population get vaccinated.
How the Covid threat has changed
Early last year we all developed some understanding of the threat that Covid posed, but unfortunately the threat level has increased. The new variants are much more contagious and are making more younger people seriously ill. A USA health care group that tracks Covid across 250 hospitals in 14 states found that the introduction of the UK variant into the USA had changed things significantly in the first three months of 2021. We know that last year Covid was much less of a threat to younger people but by the end of March this year one third of the Covid cases in hospitals in those 14 states were people in the 18-49 age group. Last year younger people were getting Covid, but now they are more likely to be seriously ill. We already see that the people who are testing positive in Australian quarantine hotels tend to be infected with one of the new, more dangerous variants, so if there is a major outbreak it will probably bring with it this sort of higher level of threat to younger people.
The Pfizer Vaccine – a need to move quickly
As I am sure you know, the Pfizer vaccine is the recommended vaccine for people under 50 years of age. We work in aged care, perhaps the most exposed sector of the economy in terms of Covid and the virus is not disappearing anytime soon. It raises the level of risk at work if a sizeable number of our staff don’t get vaccinated, so please be proactive in working through whether to get yourself vaccinated. If you have any concerns about getting the vaccine, don’t rely on sourcing information through social media. Instead, speak with your doctor and try to come to your own informed judgement, whatever that might be.
The Pfizer vaccine is available now to younger people who work in aged care and you can get more information at this site:
Our anecdotal advice is that while there is Pfizer vaccine stock available at the moment, there may be supply problems in the near future. You probably know that the Australian government ordered additional supplies of this vaccine, but these supplies will not arrive until the last few months of the year. As such there is a risk that if you do not get vaccinated soon you may need to wait until towards the end of this year.
The Flu Vaccine
NSW Health have announced that from 1 June 2021 all aged care staff (and visitors) having any contact with residents or community care clients will need to have had the 2021 flu vaccination. So unless you have legitimate medical reasons as why you should not be vaccinated, if you have not already received the flu vaccine you will need to arrange this before June. We will be running another flu vax clinic on 26th and 27th May but you will need to book in; we will have more information to you next week.
Please be aware that you need to allow two weeks between the Covid vaccine and the flu vaccine.
Christmas in July celebration
As you know, we were hoping that we would be able to safely have a large staff party in July. Unfortunately, this Christmas in July party idea is on hold for the time being, but we will monitor things over the next month or so.
If you have any questions at all please raise them with your supervisor or ring Jenny Fahy on 9832 5418.
Chief Executive Officer
7 May 2021