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Less than 1 in 5 Australians in disability care are vaccinated against COVID

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New data shows that less than one in five Australians living under disability care are vaccinated against COVID-19 more than four months since the rollout of the vaccine started.

Rather than wait for commonwealth in-reach teams to show up, some providers are again being forced to shut down their own vaccinations, warns the disability care industry.

The federal government has placed the disability care industry in the highest priority cohort list to receive the COVID jab but has since received criticism after, without consultation, pivoting all resources to the aged care industry.

The government was criticized in April for the “incredibly low” rate of vaccination in disability care which prompted Health Department Secretary, Brendan Murphy, to assure the industry that the rollout for the sector will increase from the week of April 26.

According to the data provided by the health department to The Guardian, 16,510 doses have been administered to a section of about 27,236 national disability insurance participants who are aged 16 and up. About 11, 470 people have received the first dose and only 5,040 are fully vaccinated.

Disability care residents and staff were supposed to receive the vaccine within six weeks of the rollout commencement back in February.

Although still far behind what the government planned it to be, recent numbers have shown an improvement in the vaccination rate in the disability care industry.

The latest update by the government states that 7,350 vaccines had been provided for the disability care industry in early June.

The  National Disability Services (NDS), the peak industry group, has said that some of its members had “reverted to arranging vaccinations for their participants with local clinics instead of waiting for the commonwealth in-service” according to The Guardian.

The same group has also called for vaccinations to be mandatory for disability care workers. The government has mandated this week that vaccinations for the aged care industry staff are mandatory.

Karen Stace, NDS senior state and territory manager, said “The vulnerability of people with disability was recognised by the federal government when people with disability were included in phases 1a and 1b of the vaccine rollout,”

The health department has said that it will work to provide improved data on the vaccination program.

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