It is for this reason, all front-line health and social care staff, especially those who care for vulnerable individuals and those with weakened immune systems, are being urged to obtain a seasonal COVID-19 booster and influenza shot.
The Department of Health and Aged Care (DHAC) said as the number of COVID-19 infections increases over the winter, obtaining a COVID booster would help both carers and those they care for reduce their risk of severe illness, hospitalisation or death from the virus.
Healthcare, aged and disability support workers are at greater risk of exposure to confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19.
In addition, more people are likely to get flu this winter as fewer people will have built up natural immunity to it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the DHAC, having a flu vaccine is the best way to aid protection against both infection and severe disease for carers and the people they support.
“As travel continues to increase, seasonal influenza activity is anticipated in 2023, with the Australian community potentially more vulnerable to the virus this winter,” the DHAC said.
The flu vaccine does not protect against COVID-19, but if anyone becomes ill with both influenza and COVID-19 this can be very serious.
Some jurisdictions may have requirements in relation to worker COVID-19 vaccinations. Aged care workers and providers should stay up to date with the settings in place in their jurisdiction and note that these settings do change.
Where to get your vaccination
In-home and community support workers can get vaccinated at a GP clinic, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Service or participating pharmacy.
Free influenza vaccinations are available under the National Immunisation Program (NIP)
for people most at risk, including all eligible residents aged 65 years and older.
Effective last month, influenza vaccines for the NIP became available, subject to local supply arrangements in states and territories.
For those not eligible for NIP-funded vaccines, influenza vaccines are available through private market arrangements.
Can the COVID-19 and flu vaccination shots be given at the same time?
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) advises that COVID-19 doses can be administered at the same time as the annual flu vaccination.
Co-administration of COVID-19 doses and influenza vaccines for residents is both clinically safe and administratively efficient.