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COVID-19 vaccination for workers

Workers in high-risk settings

From 1am AEST Thursday 30 June 2022, COVID-19 vaccination are no longer be required for workers in these high-risk settings:

  • early childhood, primary and secondary education
  • prisons, youth detention centres and watch houses
  • airports

Decisions on mandatory vaccinations will instead be made by the owner or operator of these settings.

Workers in healthcare

Any worker in healthcare who enters, works in, or performs services in a healthcare setting must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Workers at residential aged care facilities must have received their booster COVID-19 vaccination if eligible for it and continue to receive booster doses as recommended.

These measures are in place to protect Queenslanders in health, disability and aged care settings, and the broader community.

A worker in healthcare for the purposes of vaccination includes:

  • anyone in the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme
  • all self-regulated allied health professionals
  • other allied health service providers whose services are eligible for a Medicare or private health insurance rebate
  • workers in disability accommodation settings
  • contractors or independent third-party providers of services or supplies
  • all other individuals who work in healthcare, including an agency nurse engaged for relief work in a specialist outpatient service
  • other healthcare, support services and personal care
  • disability support and mental health services
  • kitchen staff, gardeners, home maintenance workers and cleaners in a healthcare setting, including aged care or disability accommodation
  • volunteers who assist visitors to a healthcare setting, including volunteers engaged by Health Consumers Queensland, providing face to face advice and support services across the health system in Queensland
  • exercise physiologists providing healthcare services in a gym
  • an employee of a community pharmacy
  • chaplains visiting patients in a hospital or other healthcare setting
  • teachers in a hospital or other healthcare setting
  • hospital Clown Doctors
  • florist or coffee shop employees in a healthcare setting
  • Support worker providing services in supported independent living
  • NDIS funded allied health professional providing in person support for an NDIS participant's wellbeing (whether a registered or unregistered NDIS provider)
  • Non NDIS support person that provides in home assistance to a person in residential aged care.

Commonwealth-funded residential aged care facilities and contractors in Queensland must also comply with these requirements.

Health service employees

Health service employees are any Queensland Health employees employed under the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011 in Hospital and Health Services and the Department of Health.

For Queensland Health aged care facilities, this means anyone who is directly employed by Queensland Health, including but not limited to:

  • health care providers
  • assistant nurses
  • enrolled nurses
  • registered nurses
  • doctors
  • allied health practitioners
  • administration and support staff.

It does not include paramedics, contractors or service providers not employed by Queensland Health.

Non-healthcare workers in healthcare settings

If a worker or volunteer such as office administration staff, board members and executives are located in a setting where healthcare services are delivered, they need to be vaccinated. If they work or volunteer in a corporate head office or other non-client facing environment, they do not need to be vaccinated but are encouraged to do so (e.g. call centre staff who are not located at a hospital or other premises that provides health services).

Healthcare facilities and settings

A healthcare facility or setting is any premises where healthcare is provided.

Examples of a healthcare setting include:

  • public hospitals, public health clinics, ambulance services, patient transport services, and other health services
  • private health facilities, such as private hospitals or day procedure centres or specialist outpatient services
  • residential aged care facilities
  • shared disability accommodation services
  • private provider facilities, such as general practitioners, private nurse offices and allied health consulting offices, pharmacies, optometrists, dental surgeries and private pathology centres
  • not for profit health organisations providing public healthcare under a service agreement with any State or Commonwealth agency, including an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Controlled Health Service
  • Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) delivering healthcare services, for example Alcohol and other Drugs residential rehabilitation and treatment services, hospital and other public healthcare services on a Hospital and Health Service campus, such as integrated mental health Step-Up Step-Down models
  • education settings within a healthcare setting
  • outreach services in other health settings provided by public, private, residential aged care or shared disability accommodation facilities, including in-home healthcare services
  • Australian Red Cross Lifeblood collection centres
  • in home delivery of disability support services
  • aged care services funded by the Australian Government and delivered in the home
  • school based healthcare, including in special schools
  • healthcare services provided in other settings such as gyms
  • in homes where disability support services in the home are delivered
  • aged care services funded by the Australian Government and delivered to a client or patient in their home.

Vaccination requirements

Any healthcare worker, regardless of their level of contact, who enters, works in, or provides services in a healthcare setting must be fully vaccinated.

Residential aged care

A worker must not enter, work in, or provide services at a residential aged care facility unless their vaccination status is up-to-date, with limited exceptions.

An up-to-date vaccination status means a person who has received a COVID-19 vaccine booster dose 3 to 6 months after being fully vaccinated, and continues to receive booster doses as recommended.

Residential aged care workers are:

  • employees
  • contractors or agency staff
  • health service employees and people engaged by Queensland Health
  • medical practitioners and allied health professionals, including paramedics and emergency services staff who regularly attend and provides care to residents whether employed or engaged by the resident, residential aged care facility or another person.

This doesn’t apply to volunteers who are not engaged by the residential aged care facility (e.g. community visitors providing companionship to a resident at the request of the resident).

Employer obligations

An employer who provides staff or services to a residential aged care facility must:

  • keep a record of the COVID-19 vaccination status of each employee
  • provide an undertaking that employees have an up-to-date vaccination status to the operator of the residential aged care facility
  • provide evidence of this to the Responsible Person if required.

Operator obligations

An operator of a residential aged care facility must:

  • take all reasonable steps to facilitate access to the COVID-19 vaccine for workers, including access to off-site vaccination
  • develop a Workforce Management Plan that:
    • requires workers, contractors, volunteers and students to notify a residential aged care facility of their additional place of employment, if relevant; and if they become aware of a COVID-19 case identified at the other workplace
    • identifies how workforce surge requirements will be met if there is a COVID-19 event at the facility
    • specifies the operator must notify the local Health Emergency Operations Centre of a critical workforce shortage
  • take reasonable steps to ensure workers, contractors who have contact with residents, volunteers and students undertake face-to-face infection control and personal protective equipment training
  • ensure an adequate supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) is available to respond to a confirmed case.

The operator should ensure, to the extent possible, that employees, contractors, volunteers and students do not work across multiple care facilities.

If they do work across multiple facilities, they must wear appropriate PPE in in accordance with Queensland Health’s Residential Aged Care Facility and Disability Accommodation PPE Guidance (PDF).

Cairns and Hinterland

  • Babinda Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Mossman Multi-purpose Health Service

Central Queensland

  • Baralaba Hospital Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Blackwater Hospital Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Mount Morgan Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Moura Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Eventide Home Rockhampton
  • North Rockhampton Nursing Centre
  • Springsure Hospital Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Theodore Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Woorabinda Multi-purpose Health Service

Central West

  • Alpha and Jericho Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Barcaldine Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Winton Multi-purpose Health Service

Darling Downs

  • Dr E A F McDonald Nursing Home
  • Forest View Residential Care Facility
  • Inglewood Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Karingal Nursing Home
  • Milton House
  • Mt Lofty Nursing Home
  • Texas Multi-purpose Health Service
  • The Oaks Residential Aged Care Facility

Mackay

  • Clermont Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Collinsville Hospital

Metro North

  • Brighton Health Campus (Gannet House)
  • Cooinda House

Metro South

  • Redland Residential Care Facility

North West

  • Cloncurry Hospital
  • McKinlay Shire Multi-purpose Health Service

South West

  • Augathella 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 Coast

  • Glenbrook

Torres and Cape

  • Cooktown Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Weipa Hospital Multi-purpose Health Service

Townsville

  • Eventide Charters Towers
  • Parklands Residential Aged Care Facility
  • Hughenden Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Richmond Multi-purpose Health Service

Wide Bay

  • Biggenden Hospital Multi-purpose Health Service
  • Childers Multi-purpose Health Service

Telehealth services

An unvaccinated person may continue to provide healthcare services from their home or another location via telehealth and have no face-to-face contact with clients or patients.

Providing evidence of vaccination

You should provide evidence of meeting the vaccination requirements as soon as reasonably possible after each dose you receive of a COVID-19 vaccine to your employer, and any other nominated responsible person for keeping records of COVID-19 vaccination for workers at the healthcare facility.

You can also find out about how to apply for an exemption from being vaccinated on the basis of a medical contraindication or participation in a COVID-19 vaccine trial.

Employers of workers in healthcare settings

Any employer that employs, contracts or otherwise engages a worker at a healthcare setting should inform the worker of the COVID-19 vaccination requirements and must:

  • take all reasonable steps to ensure that the worker does not work or provide services at a healthcare facility if they have not met the vaccination requirements (or the PPE and COVID-19 testing requirements if they are unable to be vaccinated and the employer allows them to continue working)
  • keep a record of COVID-19 vaccine information reported to them by their workers in a healthcare setting and store it securely.

Training for workers

Residential aged care operators must take reasonable steps to ensure all employees, contractors who have contact with residents, volunteers and students of residential aged care facilities undergo face-to-face infection control and personal protective equipment training.

The training must cover the Residential Aged Care Facility and Disability Accommodation PPE Guidance (PDF). It must also include a face-to-face competency assessment on donning and doffing of PPE.

Some components of the training may be delivered by the trainer virtually.

The training must be conducted by:

  • a person who has specialist infection control experience
  • a person qualified to provide education/training who has experience in providing education/training about infection control and personal protective equipment
  • a registered nurse or other health practitioner who has experience in providing education sessions
  • a registered nurse who has completed an infection control and personal protective equipment train-the-trainer session led by a registered nurse or other health practitioner who has specialist infection control experience or experience in providing education sessions.

The training must include a competency assessment of donning and doffing personal protective equipment.

Responsible person

A responsible person for a healthcare setting means the person legally responsible for employing or engaging healthcare workers and for monitoring their access to those locations.

A responsible person can be a:

  • licensee
  • operator
  • chief executive
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) provider or their delegate in a healthcare setting.

A responsible person is not a:

  • support co-ordinator
  • NDIS plan manager
  • self-managing NDIS participant, where the self-managing NDIS participant does not directly employ a worker in healthcare.

If the responsible person is not the employer, they must still take responsibility in notifying the employers of the healthcare workers of the COVID-19 vaccination requirements.

A responsible person must keep a record, either locally or centrally, of COVID-19 vaccination compliance reported by a worker in healthcare or their employer. 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.

An emergency officer can require a responsible person, a healthcare worker or a healthcare worker’s employer to comply with additional directions if the officer believes the direction is reasonably necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

Questions and answers about vaccination requirements for workers

Questions about healthcare workers

What is considered adequate supply of PPE?

If a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 is identified in a residential aged care facility the facility will need to immediately implement enhanced infection control practices. This will require increased use of PPE by staff and residents. It is important that residential aged care facilities plan for this, and hold adequate supply on site to meet immediate needs, while waiting for resupply.

As a guide, it is suggested that urban and regional facilities may require 3 days’ worth of PPE, and regional and remote facilities may require 6 days’ worth of PPE. It will also depend on other factors such as the number of staff and residents in the residential aged care facility.

In deciding supply and stock management practices, the facility operator should consider:

  • their ability to isolate and cohort residents
  • the likely required use of PPE
  • the distribution and supply chain logistics.

I have been called in to a healthcare facility for an emergency, but I am not fully vaccinated. Can I enter the facility?

An unvaccinated healthcare worker may be permitted to enter a healthcare facility to respond to an emergency. They must use Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) required by the PPE guideline and abide by the COVID-safe plan and practices of the healthcare facility.

Where you enter the healthcare setting for an emergency response, you must also notify your employer and the responsible person at the healthcare facility that you have done so and are unvaccinated.

Why do students be fully vaccinated to enter a residential aged care facility as part of their placement?

Ensuring students entering residential aged care facilities as part of their placements are fully vaccinated protects the most vulnerable in our community during times of heightened risk.

Unlike employees and contractors of disability accommodation services, whose work is essential to ensuring the health and wellbeing of residents, students undertaking a placement can have their placement delayed without putting residents at risk.

Can I visit a family member that is a patient, client or resident in a healthcare setting if I am an unvaccinated worker in healthcare?

A worker in healthcare who has not been vaccinated for COVID-19 may enter a healthcare setting in their personal or private capacity as:

  • a visitor of a patient, client or resident of the healthcare setting
  • a parent or guardian of a patient, client or resident
  • as a patient, client or resident themselves.

Can an unvaccinated worker still be allowed to visit clients' homes?

If you cannot be vaccinated because of a medical contraindication or are participating in a COVID-19 vaccine trial, you may still be allowed to visit clients' homes. However, you must provide your vaccination exemption certificate to the healthcare facility operator for recording.

You must also:

  • use PPE consistent with the PPE guideline and COVID safe plans
  • undertake a COVID-19 test within 24 hours prior to entry, and every second work day after, and provide the test result as soon as reasonably practicable.

Questions about disability workers

Do all disability support services workers need to be vaccinated or only those who are delivering services under the NDIS?

All workers providing disability support services or working in a healthcare setting are required to be vaccinated. Funding does not change the requirement for vaccination. This includes:

  • registered and unregistered NDIS providers
  • workers providing support through agency-managed, plan-managed and self-managed NDIS plans
  • services funded or delivered by the Queensland Government
  • mental health services.

Do I need to be vaccinated if I only provide online disability support services? Can I change my service delivery to online if I am not vaccinated but want to continue working?

Vaccination is not mandatory if you are not delivering in-person support and don’t work in a healthcare setting. Some workers delivering online services will need to be vaccinated due to their professional registration (e.g. AHPRA or self-regulated allied health professionals). Workers that choose not to be vaccinated can continue, or transition to, delivering support online. The quality of service for the person with disability must not be impacted and the person must consent to receive online-only support.

I provide care to a person with disability and they only want unvaccinated workers, can I remain unvaccinated to continue to support them?

No, the obligation to be vaccinated is with you as the worker. The person with disability will not be penalised, but as the unvaccinated worker you could be penalised if you continue to deliver support while you are unvaccinated.

If the person with disability will be placed at risk due to a lack of support, this should be reported to the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission or other appropriate regulatory body.

Do sole traders and workers providing supports to self-managed NDIS participants need to be vaccinated? Who is responsible for checking their vaccination status?

All workers providing disability support services need to be vaccinated – it does not matter where the funding is coming from. Sole traders and workers providing supports to plan-managed and self-managed NDIS participants are responsible for ensuring they are vaccinated. It is not the responsibility of the person with disability, the support coordinator or plan manager.

Any enforcement penalties for non-compliance will be directed to the sole trader or worker providing supports to the plan-managed or self-managed NDIS participants, not the person with disability.

How do we report non-compliance with the Direction if a provider is aware that an independent contractor is delivering services while unvaccinated?

For NDIS funded supports, consider contacting the NDIS Quality and Safeguards Commission. You can also call 134 COVID (13 42 68) for advice.