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COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Workers in Residential Aged Care and Disability Accommodation Services Direction

Understanding this Direction

Information to help you understand what this Direction means for workers in residential aged care and disability services.

Summary

Effective from: 6pm AEST 2 September 2022

Posted: 2 September 2022

Direction from Chief Health Officer in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared public health emergency

Public Health Act 2005 (Qld)
Section 362B

On 29 January 2020, under the Public Health Act 2005, the Minister for Health and Minister for Ambulance Services made an order declaring a public health emergency in relation to coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The public health emergency area specified in the order is for ‘all of Queensland’. Its duration has been extended by regulation to 22 September 2022 and may be further extended.

Further to this declaration, l, Dr John Gerrard, Chief Health Officer, reasonably believe it is necessary to give the following directions pursuant to s362B of the Public Health Act 2005 to assist in containing, or to respond to, the spread of COVID-19 within the community.

Guidance

This Direction sets out the COVID-19 vaccination requirements for residential aged care workers and shared disability accommodation service workers, and the corresponding requirements of the operators in a residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service , with limited exceptions, to assist in containing, and to respond to, the spread of COVID-19 to vulnerable residents in these settings.

Preamble

  1. On 10 November 2021, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) issued statements recommending mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for residential aged care workers and shared disability accommodation service workers. Subsequently on 15 February and 16 March 2022 respectively, AHPPC released statements on mandating COVID-19 booster vaccinations for residential aged care workers and shared disability accommodation service workers. This Public Health Direction aligns with the principles in those AHPPC statements, with limited exceptions.

Citation

  1. This Public Health Direction may be referred to as the COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements for Workers in Residential Aged Care and Shared Disability Accommodation Services Direction.

Commencement

  1. This Direction applies from 6:00pm on Friday, 2 September 2022 until the end of the declared public health emergency, unless it is revoked or replaced.

Application

  1. This Direction applies to a person who enters or remains in a residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service and the operators of these settings.

PART 1 – COVID-19 VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS FOR WORKERS IN RESIDENTIAL AGED CARE

  1. This part applies to a person who is a residential aged care worker at a residential aged care facility.

  2. A residential aged care worker must not enter or stay at a residential aged care facility unless the residential aged care worker:

    1. has an up-to-date vaccination status; or

    2. they meet the requirements for an exception in Part 2.

  3. Note: to meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirements, a worker is required to have an up-to-date vaccination status which, for a residential aged care worker from 31 March 2022, is at least three doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

  4. To demonstrate a residential aged care worker meets the COVID-19 vaccination requirements they must:

    1. for a sole trader – provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to any residential aged care facility in which they work; or

    2. for an employee who is not a sole trader – provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to their employer; or

    3. for an employer that provides staff or services to a residential aged care facility:

      1. keep a record of the COVID-19 vaccine status of each residential aged care worker; and

      2. provide an undertaking to the operator of a residential aged care facility that each residential aged care worker has an up-to-date vaccination status. An undertaking is required for each residential aged care facility that the residential aged care worker works in; and

      3. if requested by the operator, provide evidence to support the undertaking.

  5. An operator of a residential aged care facility must take all reasonable steps to facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccine for residential aged care workers engaged by the residential aged care facility, including access to off-site vaccination.

PART 1A – COVID-19 VACCINATION REQUIREMENTS FOR WORKERS IN DISABILITY SERVICES

  1. This part applies to a person who is a shared disability accommodation service worker at a shared disability accommodation service.

  2. A shared disability accommodation service worker must not enter or stay at a shared disability accommodation service unless they:

    1. have an up-to-date vaccination status by the implementation date; or

    2. they meet the requirements for an exception in paragraphs Part 2.

  3. Note: to meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirements, a worker is required to have an up-to-date vaccination status which, for a shared disability accommodation worker from 30 September 2022, is at least three doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

  4. To demonstrate a shared disability accommodation service worker meets the COVID-19 vaccination requirements they must:

    1. for a sole trader – provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to any shared disability accommodation service in which they work; or

    2. for an employee who is not a sole trader – provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination to their employer; or

    3. for an employer that provides staff or services to a shared disability accommodation service:

      1. keep a record of the COVID-19 vaccine status of each shared disability accommodation service worker; and

      2. provide an undertaking to the operator of a shared disability accommodation service that each shared disability accommodation service has an up-to-date vaccination status. An undertaking is required for each shared disability accommodation service that the worker works in; and

      3. if requested by the operator, provide evidence to support the undertaking.

  5. An operator of a shared disability accommodation service must take all reasonable steps to facilitate access to COVID-19 vaccine for shared disability accommodation service workers engaged by the shared disability accommodation service, including access to off-site vaccination.

PART 2 – EXCEPTIONS

  1. This Part applies to all residential aged care workers and shared disability accommodation service workers, who are required to comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements under Part 1 or Part 1A. This part does not apply to a residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker who is undertaking an educational placement in either a residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service.

Medical contraindication

  1. Paragraphs 7 and 10 do not apply to a residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker who is unable to be vaccinated due to a current medical contraindication where the operator:

    1. assesses the risk to other staff, patients, clients and other persons at the residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service; and

    2. determines that the unvaccinated worker may continue to work in the setting where their work cannot be performed outside the setting; and

    3. the unvaccinated worker complies with the requirements in paragraph 15.

  2. A residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker to whom paragraph 14 applies must:

    1. comply with the PPE guideline requirements for the setting and any COVID safe plans; and

    2. on commencement of this Direction, on the worker’s next day of work, undertake a COVID-19 test before commencing duties and every second day thereafter, and provides a negative test result to the operator for the residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service as soon as reasonably practicable after the result is received; or

      Example: an unvaccinated worker who works consecutive shifts several days in a row is required to undertake a COVID-19 test before starting the first shift after commencement of this Direction and every second work day thereafter.

    3. where the worker is a person to whom the Health Employment Directive 12/21 Employee COVID-19 Vaccination requirements (HED) applies, comply with the requirements relating to a medical contraindication or any other exceptions to mandatory vaccination requirements in the HED or the direction, or required by an employer to support best practice infection control.

  3. A residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker to whom paragraph 14 applies must provide evidence of the current medical contraindication.

  4. Evidence of a current medical contraindication provided by a residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker to an employer under a predecessor to this public health direction is deemed to be evidence provided for the purposes of paragraph 16 and additional evidence need not be provided for a current medical contraindication.

Participation in a COVID-19 Vaccine Trial

  1. Paragraphs 7 and 10 do not apply to a residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker, other than a student, where:

    1. the worker is a participant in a COVID-19 vaccine trial; and

    2. the operator assesses the risk to other staff, patients, clients and other persons at the residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service.

  2. A residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker to whom paragraph 18 applies must notify the operator as soon as reasonably practicable upon completion of their participation in a COVID-19 vaccine trial.

  3. The exception outlined in paragraph 18 ceases to apply upon the earlier of:

    1. the trial COVID-19 vaccine being recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration; or

    2. the trial COVID-19 vaccine being approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration; or

    3. the trial COVID-19 vaccine being rejected for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

Recent infection with COVID-19

  1. Paragraph 10 does not apply to a shared disability accommodation service worker where:

    1. they are or have been a diagnosed person; and

    2. three months has not passed since becoming a diagnosed person.

  2. A shared disability accommodation service worker to whom paragraph 21 applies must notify the operator of the shared disability accommodation service or their employer as soon as reasonably practicable after three months has passed since they were a diagnosed person.

  3. The exception outlined in paragraph 21 ceases to apply upon the earlier of:

    1. three months passing since the shared disability accommodation service worker was a diagnosed person and they become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in accordance with the advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation; or

    2. any earlier interval between being a diagnosed person and being eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine recommended by the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation.

    3. Example: a shared disability accommodation service worker receives a positive COVID-19 test on 21 August 2022. The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation recommends that a person wait three months until their next dose of COVID-19 vaccine, meaning the worker should not receive their third dose of vaccine until 21 November 2022.

Critical Workforce Shortage

  1. The Chief Health Officer or his delegate may approve for a residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker who has not complied with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements to continue to enter and remain in the residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service where there is a critical workforce shortage, on such conditions, including the use of PPE, as the Chief Health Officer or his delegate approves. Any approval provided will effectively be an extension of time to comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements in this Direction.

Emergency Entry

  1. Paragraphs 7 and 10 do not apply to an unvaccinated residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker who enters or remains in a residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service for any of the following purposes:

    1. to respond to an emergency or to provide an emergency service; or

    2. to undertake a legislated regulatory or compliance function; or

    3. as part of official union duties in response to an emergent need.

  2. An unvaccinated residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker who enters under paragraph 25 must comply with the PPE guideline requirements for the setting unless to do so would be unsafe due to the nature of the emergency.

  3. An unvaccinated residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker who enters under paragraph 25 must report the entry to the operator or their delegate as soon as is reasonably practicable.

Entry in a private capacity

  1. A residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker who does not comply with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements may enter the residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation in their personal or private capacity but must not enter or remain as a work and must comply with all other public health directions applicable to entering the setting.

Entry to a healthcare setting for law enforcement

  1. Where the operator for a residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service is satisfied that a worker is entering for the purposes of law enforcement and disclosure of their compliance with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements is inconsistent with the law enforcement function, the operator may permit the worker to enter and remain in the setting without showing evidence of COVID-19 vaccination or of medical contraindication, and the operator is not required to record details in relation to the worker.

PART 3 – EVIDENCE REQUIREMENTS FOR WORKERS AND OPERATORS

  1. A residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker and their employer must take all reasonable steps to ensure that the worker does not enter or remain in the residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service if the person is prohibited from doing so under this Direction.

  2. An employer of a residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker must keep a record of:

    1. the worker’s vaccination status; and

    2. the type of evidence of vaccination or of medical contraindication sighted; and

    3. the date the evidence is sighted; or

    4. for an unvaccinated worker permitted to continue working, sighting a negative COVID-19 test result as soon as practicable after pre-shift testing of the unvaccinated worker.

      Note: where the COVID-19 test undertaken is a COVID-19 PCR test, the result need not be provided for the test undertaken that day but can be provided as part of a rolling surveillance testing program.

  3. A residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker or, where they are employed by another person their employer, must provide the operator with confirmation that the worker complies with the COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

  4. Where the operator for a residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service is not the employer, the operator must take reasonable steps to notify employers of workers in the setting of the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and to record vaccination compliance as advised by the employer in relation to its workforce.

    Example: unless they are an employer of a shared disability accommodation service worker, a support co‑ordinator, NDIS plan manager and a self-managing NDIS participant are not an operator and are not responsible for ensuring another person complies with the vaccination requirements under this public health direction.

PART 4 – RECORD KEEPING REQUIREMENTS – OPERATORS

  1. An operator or their delegate must keep a record, either locally or centrally, of COVID-19 vaccination compliance reported to it by a residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker or their employer. The information is collected and used for ensuring compliance with the Direction or other reporting obligations.

  2. The information must be stored in a secure database that is accessible to authorised persons only and maintained in accordance with the Information Privacy Act 2009 and the Public Records Act 2002.

PART 5 – OTHER MATTERS

  1. An emergency officer (public health) can require an operator, residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker, or their employer to comply with additional directions if the emergency officer believes the direction is reasonably necessary to assist in containing, or to respond to, the spread of COVID-19 within the community.

PART 6 — DEFINITIONS

  1. Definitions used in this Direction are in Schedule 1.

PART 7 — PENALTIES

A person to whom the direction applies commits an offence if the person fails, without reasonable excuse, to comply with the direction.

Section 362D of the Public Health Act 2005 provides:

Failure to comply with public health directions

A person to whom a public health direction applies must comply with the direction unless the person has a reasonable excuse.
Maximum penalty—100 penalty units or 6 months imprisonment.

Dr John Gerrard
Chief Health Officer
2 September 2022

Published on the Queensland Health website at 6pm AEST

SCHEDULE 1 – DEFINITIONS

For the purpose of this Direction:

Authorised person is a person approved or permitted to access the information in accordance with licensing requirements, if any, the Information Privacy Act 2009 and the Public Records Act 2002 and related instruments of delegation.

COVID-19 test means a COVID-19 PCR test or a COVID-19 RAT.

COVID-19 PCR test means an oropharyngeal and deep nasal swab for a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to detect whether a person has the COVID-19 virus.

Note: A COVID-19 PCR test does not include a self-test.

COVID-19 RAT means a Rapid Antigen Test approved for use in Australia by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to detect whether the person has the COVID-19 virus.

COVID-19 vaccination requirements see paragraph 7 and 10.

Note: evidence of meeting the COVID-19 vaccination requirements may include a person’s MyGov record or immunisation history statement from the Australian Immunisation Register. A person’s immunisation history statement can be obtained from the Australian Government using myGov, the Medicare mobile app or by calling the Australian Immunisation Register and requesting a statement to be posted. Information is available at: https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/medicare/australian-immunisation-register/how-get-immunisation-history-statement.

COVID-19 vaccine is a vaccine for COVID-19 that is approved for use in Australia or recognised by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

COVID-19 vaccine trial means a medical trial for a COVID-19 vaccine under either the Clinical Trial Notification or Clinical Trial Approval schemes regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

COVID-19 vaccine trial participant means a person who:

  1. is an active participant in a COVID-19 vaccine trial; and

  2. provides a medical certificate or letter from a medical practitioner, registered under the Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (Queensland) associated with the COVID-19 vaccine trial confirming that:

    1. The residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker is participating in a Phase 3 or 4 clinical trial for a COVID-19 Vaccine; and

    2. The residential aged care worker or shared disability accommodation service worker has received at least one active dose of the COVID-19 vaccine being trialled.

Critical workforce shortage means a sustained workforce shortage in:

  1. a residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service; and

  2. in the geographical region in which the setting is located,

that may directly and significantly adversely impact patient or client care.

Example: A critical workforce shortage may be a shortage of more than 10 per cent of staff for a sustained period of 7 days or more, however this will depend on the size of the setting and baseline staffing levels (including consideration of skills mix and rostering), and will depend on the nature and extent of the impacts on patient and client care and safety.

Diagnosed person means an individual who has received a positive COVID-19 test result.

Educational placement means a placement in a residential aged care facility or share disability accommodation service, that is undertaken in connection with an enrolled course of study and under the supervision of an employee or contractor at the setting, or as part of a professional development arrangement

Emergency officer (public health) means an emergency officer appointed under the Public Health Act 2005.
Note: Emergency officers appointed under the Public Health Act 2005 include environmental health officers and police.

Employer means a person, or other legal entity that employs or otherwise engages a residential aged care worker, shared disability accommodation service worker, or who provides supplies or services in a residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service.

Fully vaccinated means a person aged 16 years and over who has received the primary course of COVID-19 vaccination, usually 2 doses, as prescribed by the TGA and/or Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and one week has passed since the dose was administered.

Health service employee means an employee engaged under the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 in Hospital and Health Services and the Department of Health.

Note: a health service employee who works in a multi-purpose health facility must be vaccinated if they will enter, work in, or perform services in the residential aged care portion of the facility.

Implementation date means 30 September 2022 for up-to-date vaccination status for a shared disability accommodation service worker.

Medical contraindication means a person has a current

  1. COVID-19 vaccine medical exemption recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register; or

  2. Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) immunisation medical exemptions form completed and signed by an eligible health professional for the COVID-19 vaccine.

    Notes: some medical contraindications are temporary and therefore the record or completed form may only be valid for a period of time. A current completed and signed AIR immunisation medical exemption form is valid in printed or digital form. (See paragraph 12)

Operator means the person legally responsible for employing or engaging residential aged care workers or shared disability accommodation service workers and for facilitating their access to the setting. The operator may include a licensee, operator or chief executive, National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider or their delegate in a setting. It does not include a support coordinator, NDIS plan manager, or a self-managing NDIS participant, where the self-managing NDIS participant does not directly employ a worker.

Proof of COVID-19 vaccination means any evidence required to support a person’s claims of having received the number of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine as prescribed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and/or Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation and includes a COVID-19 digital certificate, an immunisation history statement (printed or digital) or an international COVID- 19 vaccination certificate.

Queensland Health residential aged care facility means the following Queensland Health facilities and for a multi-purpose health service, means the aged care portion in which accommodation, and personal or nursing care or both, are provided to a person in respect of whom a residential care subsidy or a flexible care subsidy is payable under the Aged Care Act 1997 of the Commonwealth, or funding is provided under the Commonwealth Government National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program or Multi-Purpose Services Program:

Hospital and Health ServiceFacility
Cairns and HinterlandBabinda Multi-purpose Health Service
Mossman Multi-purpose Health Service
Central QueenslandBaralaba Hospital Multi-purpose Health Service
Blackwater Hospital Multi-purpose Health Service
Eventide Home Rockhampton
Mount Morgan Multi-purpose Health Service
Moura Multi-purpose Health Service
North Rockhampton Nursing Centre
Springsure Hospital Multi-purpose Health Service
Theodore Multi-purpose Health Service
Woorabinda Multi-purpose Health Service
Central WestAlpha and Jericho Multi-purpose Health Service
Barcaldine Multi-purpose Health Service
Winton Multi-purpose Health Service
Darling DownsDr E A F McDonald Nursing Home
Forest View Residential Care Facility
Inglewood Multi-purpose Health Service
Karingal Nursing Home
Millmerran Multi-purpose Health Service
Milton House
Mt Lofty Nursing Home
Texas Multi-purpose Health Service
The Oaks Residential Aged Care Facility
MackayClermont Multi-purpose Health Service
Collinsville Hospital
Metro NorthGannet House
Cooinda House
Metro SouthRedland Residential Care Facility
North WestCloncurry Hospital
McKinlay Shire Multi-purpose Health Service
South WestAugathella Multi-purpose Health Service
Cunnamulla Multi-purpose Health Service
Dirranbandi Multi-purpose Health Service
Injune Multi-purpose Service
Mitchell Multi-purpose Health Service
Mungindi Multi-purpose Health Service
Quilpie Multi-purpose Health Service
Surat Multi-purpose Service
Waroona Multipurpose Centre
Westhaven Nursing Home
Sunshine CoastGlenbrook
Torres and CapeCooktown Multi-purpose Health Service
Weipa Hospital Multi-purpose Health Service
TownsvilleEventide Charters Towers
Parklands Residential Aged Care Facility
Hughenden Multi-purpose Health Service
Richmond Multi-purpose Health Service
Wide BayBiggenden Hospital Multi-purpose Health Service
Childers Multi-purpose Health Service
Eidsvold Hospital Multi-purpose Health Service
Mundubbera Multi-purpose Health Service

Shared disability accommodation service worker means a person who is:

  1. employed or engaged by or on behalf of a shared disability accommodation service (whether as an employee, contractor or agency staff) to work in, perform duties or provide services for residents at a shared disability accommodation service in a paid or unpaid capacity and on a full time, part time or casual basis; and

  2. a student undertaking an educational placement in a shared disability accommodation service; and

  3. for the purposes of Part 1A, includes a medical practitioner and allied health professionals who regularly attend and provide care to residents of a shared disability accommodation service whether employed or engaged by the resident, shared disability accommodation service or another person.

    Note: volunteers who are not engaged by the shared disability accommodation service, for example community visitors providing companionship to a resident at the request of the resident, are not within the scope of this Direction.

Residential aged care facility means a facility, including a Queensland Health residential aged care facility, at which accommodation, and personal care or nursing care or both, are provided to a person in respect of whom a residential care subsidy or a flexible care subsidy is payable under the Aged Care Act 1997 of the Commonwealth, or funding is provided under the National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Flexible Aged Care Program.

Residential aged care worker means any person:

  1. employed or engaged by or on behalf of a residential aged care facility (whether as an employee, contractor, agency staff) to work in, perform duties or provide services for residents at a residential aged care facility in paid or unpaid capacity on a full time, part time or casual basis; and

  2. includes a health service employee and a person engaged by Queensland Health (whether as an employee, contractor, agency staff or volunteer) to work in, perform duties or provide services at a Queensland Health residential aged care facility and/or at a residential aged care facility; and

  3. a student undertaking a educational placement in a residential aged care facility; and

  4. for the purposes of Part 1, includes medical practitioners and allied health professionals who regularly attend and provide care to residents of a residential aged care facility whether employed or engaged by the resident, residential aged care facility or another person.

    Example: a nurse contracted to fill a staffing shortage and provide care for residents in a nursing home may be a contractor but is also a residential aged care worker.

    Note: volunteers who are not engaged by the residential aged care facility, for example community visitors providing companionship to a resident at the request of the resident, are not within the scope of this Direction.

Shared disability accommodation service means a service, including the forensic disability service under the Forensic Disability Act 2011, where:

  1. four or more people with disability reside with people who are not members of their family, in short-term or long-term accommodation; and

  2. the residents share enclosed common living areas within the facility whether inside or outside, and

  3. the residents are provided with disability supports within the facility.

Student means a student who in connection with an enrolled course of study, is undertaking a placement under the supervision of an employee or contractor at the residential aged care facility or shared disability accommodation service.

Unvaccinated means either a residential aged care worker or a shared disability accommodation service worker who does not meet the COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

Up-to-date vaccination status means either:

  1. for a residential aged care worker, from 31 March 2022, a person aged 16 years or older who has received at least three doses of COVID-19 vaccine; and

  2. for a shared disability accommodation service worker, prior to 30 September 2022, a person who is fully vaccinated; or

  3. for a shared disability accommodation service worker, from 30 September 2022, a person who is aged 16 years or older who has received at least three doses of COVID-19 vaccine.

Last updated: 2 September 2022