Coronavirus Update

Tuesday 4 May 2021

Good afternoon all,

Please find the following information providing staff with an update on the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 Vaccinations
The ongoing delay in COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been well reported in the media, with Mercy Connect still awaiting confirmation of when our group home residents will be receiving their vaccinations as part of Phase 1a.

A Disability Provider Alert received on 23 April 2021 from the Australian Department of Health, noted that the Phase 1a rollout will progress from early May for people with disability living in residential accommodation. Further, the Australian Government has contracted ASPEN to deliver the vaccine, starting in the smaller states and territories, with additional vaccine providers also being sought.

I remain hopeful this will be the much-needed kick-start, without further delay, that the disability industry has been calling for.

However, it remains essential that all participants seeking vaccination must have informed consent received from their medical guardians prior to any vaccination being given.

States and territories will begin vaccinating people in Phase 2a in May starting with all adults 50 years and over:

  • From 3 May 2021, people aged 50 years and over can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at General Practice Respiratory Clinics and state and territory vaccination clinics.
  • From 17 May 2021, people aged 50 years and over can receive the AstraZeneca vaccine at a participating general practice.

It is concerning to read that an online survey of 368 disability support workers across Australia, conducted from March 5 to April 8 this year, found that only half would get the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it was offered to them. The other half were hesitant and could be divided into two groups — “delayed vaccinators” and “refusers” – with 17 percent indicating they wouldn’t have the vaccination at all.

Having received my own AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccination on 13 April from my local GP, with my second dose due on 13 July, I encourage all Mercy Connect staff to get vaccinated as soon as practicable.

Mercy Connect staff remain eligible for the vaccination and can request a formal letter stating that they work for Mercy Connect within the disability sector. To request a personalised letter please email Rosie Busuttil.

Staff are encouraged to check their eligibility and book a COVID-19 vaccination through this site: Department of Health Vaccine Eligibility Checker.

More vaccination clinics, participating General Practices, and state and territory vaccination clinics will become available in the coming weeks. Please check later if there are no clinics or appointments available in your area at this time.

You can also find out about how to book in for your vaccination appointment by contacting the National Coronavirus and COVID-19 Vaccination Helpline on 1800 020 080.

For information on preparing for a COVID-19 vaccination, download click here or visit Department of Health Website.

Annual Flu Vaccine
Staff flu vaccine vouchers are still available, and each free voucher must be used to book an available appointment, in order for staff to guarantee their 2021 Flu Shot Immunisation Service. Staff can contact Debbie White (Thurgoona staff) or Rebecca Jones (Central West staff) for their individual voucher.

Albury-Wodonga – Spaces are available this week. The next clinic will be 31 May to 4 June 2021.
Central West – Clinics are operating Monday to Friday from 11.00 am to 7.00 pm.

The steps required for staff to process their flu voucher, include:

  1. Type in a residential postcode to bring up a list of the nearest participating pharmacies.
  2. Select the desired booking date and time.
  3. Enter in contact details (email, phone number, name, DOB, Medicare, address, etc.).
  4. After entering in the ‘last name’, click on the drop-down tab next to ‘Discount By’ and select ‘Voucher’ and enter in the voucher code. This will allow Mercy Connect to accurately identify which customer in each booking has used each voucher.
  5. Under the ‘Got a voucher code? Add it here’ section, type in the voucher code, click ‘Apply’ and continue entering the booking details.

Please note that a reported voucher issue experienced by some staff is that there may be confusion between ‘0’ (number) and ‘O’ (letter) and ‘1’ (number) and ‘I’ (letter). All codes include one underscore ‘_’ and are made of numbers and capitalised letters.

Cleaning and Hygiene Reminder
Just a reminder that for any time where staff and / or participants present with symptoms associated with flu, pandemic related and / or gastro, they are requested to stay at home, or in some cases, call an ambulance if required.

Team Leaders, Managers, and rostering should be contacted immediately, and any relevant Team Leaders / Day programs are to be notified. Staff are to call rostering after 9:00 am; however if before 9:00 am call the house or on call number.

Infectious participants that usually attend day programs are to stay in their home and staff will need to wear PPE and prepare for a lockdown of the participant within their home.

Precautionary measures to minimise contact between their housemates should be put in place and a deep cleaning organised.

If PPE is worn properly the risk of infections is lessened considerably and staff should be able to continue their shift responsibilities.

Please continue to practice social distancing, hand washing, and sanitising, and if unwell stay home.

Together we grow.

Trent Dean
Chief Executive Officer