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Covid-19 Australia: Aged care workers refuse vaccine jab as Sydney exposure list grows

A man working with vulnerable elderly residents at an aged care home is refusing to get vaccinated against Covid, despite a spike in cases in Sydney and a relentlessly-growing list of exposure sites spreading across the city.  

Jabs are being made mandatory for everyone working in aged care and hotel quarantine settings, with the majority of Australia’s coronavirus deaths being in nursing homes.

Out of 35 new cases in New South Wales on Monday, two were residents at Summit Aged Care, taking the cluster to five.  

But the aged care worker, known only as Drew, said he and many others in the industry are fiercely opposed to the move, and says he feels ‘coerced’ by the federal government’s new policy.

Health chiefs have continuously explained that unless the vaccination rate picks up, particularly among those working with vulnerable Australians, continued lockdowns and border closures may be unavoidable.

As Sydney’s latest lockdown rolls into it 12th day, the city’s growing Covid exposure list grew yet again to include multiple busy supermarkets and restaurants. 

A man working with vulnerable elderly residents at an aged care home is refusing to get vaccinated against Covid (pictured, healthcare workers transport a person into a patient transport vehicle at the Arcare Aged Care facility)

‘I’m aware of many of my colleagues who are now fearful of getting the vaccine and feel coerced and pressured that if they don’t, they will be unemployed,’ the anonymous aged care worker told A Current Affair on Monday night.

‘There are many, many people like that’.

Drew has worked in the aged care industry for more than 30 years and is now worried he might lose his job, claiming he’s ‘not an anti-vaxxer’ and has received the flu vaccine before.

‘I’m certainly hesitant in relation to the Covid vaccine. The flu vaccine has been well-tested, well-researched,’ he explained.

‘I find it scary that we can develop a vaccine and say that it’s going to be effective in such a short period of time without having a good study trial and reviewing the side effects people have had, including death.’

When reporter Brady Halls explained to Drew that there have been numerous studies and trials to make sure the vaccines are safe, he replied by saying: ‘I disagree’. 

All Covid vaccines being used in Australia, which is so far just AstraZeneca and Pfizer, have been proven to be safe and effective, protecting up to 96 per cent of those jabbed from hospitalisation or death from the virus. 

The aged care worker known only as Drew (pictured) said he and many others are fiercely opposed to the federal government's move to mandate Covid vaccinations

The aged care worker known only as Drew (pictured) said he and many others are fiercely opposed to the federal government’s move to mandate Covid vaccinations

The Arcare Aged Care facility in Melbourne (pictured) was rocked by a Covid outbreak in 2020, with 75 per cent of all Australia's coronavirus deaths happening in nursing homes

The Arcare Aged Care facility in Melbourne (pictured) was rocked by a Covid outbreak in 2020, with 75 per cent of all Australia’s coronavirus deaths happening in nursing homes

Poll

SHOULD COVID VACCINES BE MANDATORY FOR AGED CARE WORKERS?

  • Yes – it keeps residents safe 8 votes
  • No – it should be their choice 3 votes

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit Australia’s shores in the early part of 2020, there have been 685 deaths in aged care settings – making up 75 per cent of all the nation’s Covid fatalities.

The shocking revelations came as a distraught daughter revealed her 90-year-old mother still hasn’t been vaccinated, in spite of their best efforts. 

But despite those shocking statistics, Drew says he shouldn’t be forced to get the jab.

‘Most residents in aged care have received the vaccine so if the vaccine is effective then they should be okay,’ he said.

‘I have the right to decide if I want to have medication or not and if I decide not to at this moment in time I should not be punished for that.

‘I shouldn’t be threatened. I shouldn’t be coerced and I certainly shouldn’t be told that I’m going to lose my job and my career.’

But the Councils on the Ageing CEO Ian Yates says vaccinations are a ‘no-brainer’.

Only nine per cent of Australian adults have been double jabbed. Pictured: Two health care workers

Only nine per cent of Australian adults have been double jabbed. Pictured: Two health care workers 

Pictured: Sydney's SummitCare Baulkham Hills aged care facility, where five residents have tested positive

Pictured: Sydney’s SummitCare Baulkham Hills aged care facility, where five residents have tested positive

‘We are dealing with the most vulnerable section of our community. There is no reason if you are working with them that you should not be vaccinated,’ he said.

‘Asking people to have the flu and Covid vaccinations to work in aged care is a no-brainer.’

But while some aged care workers are refusing to get the vaccine, there are residents who are desperate for the jab but can’t receive it.

Sue Halford’s 90-year-old mother Barbara resides in a nursing home and is still yet to be vaccinated.

‘She’s waiting and I really think she needs to get her shot as a priority group 1A, 90-year-old in aged care, she really should have got her shot yesterday,’ Ms Halford said.

Sue Halford's 90-year-old mother Barbara resides in a nursing home and is still yet to be vaccinated (pictured together)

Sue Halford’s 90-year-old mother Barbara resides in a nursing home and is still yet to be vaccinated (pictured together)

Due to medical concerns, Barbara requires the Pfizer jab but with stock in short supply due to the federal government’s bungled vaccine rollout, it meant she may have to wait until the final quarter of the year.

‘I know it’s supposed to be coming September 1, but there’s still how long until then? So it needed to happen yesterday,’ Ms Halford said. 

Four of the infected residents at SummitCare Baulkham Hills had been vaccinated and all five are reportedly asymptomatic but have been transferred to Westmead Hospital.

Contact tracers suspect all the infections are linked to a single staff member, who was not fully vaccinated. 

Covid-19 Australia: Aged care workers refuse vaccine jab as Sydney exposure list grows

Across New South Wales, the epicenter of Australia’s latest outbreak which has seen Greater Sydney, Central Coast, the Blue Mountains and the Wollongong region thrust into lockdown, there were 35 new locally-acquired cases on Monday, bringing the Bondi cluster to 238 infections.

Dozens more are yet to be linked.

Among the most worrying new venues issued with a public health alert by NSW Health is a fried chicken shop in Edmondson Park, in Sydney’s south-west, and a Chinese restaurant in Marrickville, where infected workers may have spread the virus to hundreds of diners.   

The Covid-infected staffer worked for six days between June 26 and July 1, plunging any customers between 9am and 2pm into isolation for 14 days, regardless of any negative test results.

The same applies for customers of Frango Charcoal Chicken in Edmondson Park after an infected worker did a shift on July 2.   

Later on Monday evening a Bunnings and Chemist Warehouse were added to Sydney’s growing Covid exposure site list, plunging hundreds more into isolation. 

The new venues were announced on Monday night, after the state recorded 35 new locally acquired cases with the Bondi cluster now surging to 238 infections (pictured, an empty Sydney is seen on Monday)

The new venues were announced on Monday night, after the state recorded 35 new locally acquired cases with the Bondi cluster now surging to 238 infections (pictured, an empty Sydney is seen on Monday)

Among the most worrying new venues is a fried chicken shop in Edmondson Park, in Sydney's south-west, and a Chinese restaurant in Marrickville (pictured) where infected workers may have spread the virus to hundreds of diners.

Among the most worrying new venues is a fried chicken shop in Edmondson Park, in Sydney’s south-west, and a Chinese restaurant in Marrickville (pictured) where infected workers may have spread the virus to hundreds of diners.

Casual contact alerts, meaning people must get tested and isolate until they get a negative result, were put out for a Chemist Warehouse in Westfield at Hurstville and a Bunnings in Kingsgrove, as well as Hurricane’s Grill in Bondi Beach.

An infected person also visited the Sydney Adventist Hospital in Wahroonga for 15 minutes on June 28, with people on the ground floor of the Tulloch building told to monitor for symptoms if they were there between 2pm and 2.15pm.  

Of the 35 new cases of coronavirus, 11 of them were out and about while infectious amid fears Sydney’s lockdown will be extended.

NSW Health chiefs have been clear that if the city experiences continuing high numbers of people either out in the community infectious or not linked to known outbreaks, the restrictions could go on past July 9. 

Twenty-four cases were in isolation throughout their infectious period while four isolated for part of it and seven were in the community for all of their infectious period.

Three of the cases came from an illegal party in the luxurious Meriton Suites apartment block in Waterloo, inner-south Sydney on Saturday June 26. 

Anyone who was on any level of the block between 7pm that night and 8am on Monday July 5 must immediately get tested and isolate until further notice. 

Isolation orders also apply for customers of Frango Charcoal Chicken in Edmondson Park after an infected worker did a shift on July 2

Isolation orders also apply for customers of Frango Charcoal Chicken in Edmondson Park after an infected worker did a shift on July 2

SYDNEY COVID EXPOSURE SITES REVEALED MONDAY NIGHT 

Anyone who has attended the following venues at the listed times is considered a close contacted and must immediately get tested and self isolate for 14 day regardless of the result. 

Belfield: Bridge of Belfield Pharmacy – Monday June 28, 8.20am to 8.40am 

Edmondson Park: Frango Charcoal Chicken –  Friday July 2, 9am – 3pm

Marrickville: Little Hong Kong in Marrickville Metro Shopping Centre – Saturday June 26, Sunday June 27, Monday June 28, Tuesday June 29, Wednesday June 30 and Thursday July 1 between 9am and 2pm any day 

Rydalmere: Aldi – Thursday July 1 from 8am to 3am and Friday July 2, from 2pm to 8:30pm 

Bossley Park: Club Marconi – Friday June 25 from 2pm to 8:30pm and Saturday June 26, from 10am to 6pm

Anyone who has attended the following venues at the listed times is considered a casual contacted and must immediately get tested and self isolate until they receive a negative result. 

Hurstville: Chemist Warehouse inside Westfield – Friday July 2, 1.30pm to 1.55pm

Bondi Beach: Hurricane’s Grill – Wednesday June 23, 5.20pm to 7pm

Kingsgrove: Bunnings – Tuesday June 29, 3.40pm to 3.50pm 

Auburn: Pindi Supermarket – Tuesday June 29 form 5:40pm to 5:50pm

Anyone who has attended the following venues at the listed times is considered should monitor for symptoms and must immediately get tested if they occur and self-isolate until they receive a negative result

Wahroonga: Sydney Adventist Hospital Ground Floor of Tulloch Building – Monday June 28, 2pm to 2.15pm 

PUBLIC TRANSPORT: 

Bus 827: Liverpool to Elizabeth Hills – Tuesday June 29, departed 8:30am – arrived 9:05am. Passengers who travelled on this bus during the listed time are considered close contacts.

T5 Cumberland Line: Parramatta Station to Liverpool Station – Tuesday June 29, departed 7:23am – arrived 7:49am. Passengers who travelled on this train during the listed time are considered casual contacts.

Earlier on Monday, an Aldi supermarket and an entire soccer club were also added to the list.

Daily Mail Australia understands that a staff member at a busy Aldi supermarket in Rydalmere in Sydney’s west worked two shifts last week before testing positive, sending hundreds of shoppers and fellow employees into isolation. 

Anyone who visited the Rydalmere supermarket on Thursday July 1, from 8am to 3am and Friday July 2, from 2pm to 8.30pm is considered a close contact and must immediately get tested and self isolate for 14 days regardless of the result.

It is a similar situation at Club Marconi in Bossley Park, with the iconic western Sydney soccer club declared a Covid exposure site after an infected case attended the venue twice last week.

Anyone who attended the venue on Friday June 25 from 2pm to 8.30pm and Saturday June 26 from 10am to 6pm is considered a close contact. 

A staff member at a busy Aldi supermarket in Rydalmere, Sydney's west (pictured), worked two shifts last week before testing positive

A staff member at a busy Aldi supermarket in Rydalmere, Sydney’s west (pictured), worked two shifts last week before testing positive

Three of the cases came from an illegal party in the luxurious Meriton Suites apartment block in Waterloo, inner-south Sydney on Saturday June 26 (pictured, a woman walks at Bondi Beach during lockdown)

Three of the cases came from an illegal party in the luxurious Meriton Suites apartment block in Waterloo, inner-south Sydney on Saturday June 26 (pictured, a woman walks at Bondi Beach during lockdown)

Five of the new cases were are linked to Virgin flight VA524 from the Gold Coast to Sydney on Saturday June 26 on which an infected air crew member worked.

The total number of cases associated with this flight is nine, including eight passengers and one household contact.

There were two new cases linked to birthday party at West Hoxton, bringing the total number of cases associated with the party to 45.

A student at Rose Bay Public School – a close contact of a previous case – also tested positive. The school closed on Monday for the on-site attendance of staff and visitors. 

New South Wales has recorded 312 locally acquired cases since June 16, when the first case of the Bondi cluster was reported. 

There are now 238 cases directly linked to known cases in the Bondi cluster, as well as 54 who are linked to other known cases in the outbreak.

No new cases were acquired in any other Australian state or territory on Monday other than in Queensland, which recorded four new infections.

All four were close contacts of previously known cases, with the total number of cases in the state now sitting at 47.

South-east Queensland’s lockdown has lifted, but some restrictions are still in place including mandatory masks until July 16. 

SYDNEY’S LOCKDOWN: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW UNTIL JULY 9

Those living in Greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Shellharbour and Wollongong must abide by the following: 

Masks are mandatory in all indoor settings outside the home, including offices 

Weddings are banned and funerals are capped at 100 people – or 1 person per 4sqm – with masks required indoors 

There is no curfew but a stay at home order applies, with only four reasons to leave your home 

*The four reasons you can leave your home:

  • Shopping for food or other essential goods and services
  • Medical care or compassionate needs (including to get a COVID-19 vaccine)
  • Exercise outdoors in groups of 10 or fewer
  • Essential work, or education, where you cannot work or study from home  

The rest of NSW (including regional areas) is subject to the following restrictions:

  • No more than five visitors (including children) allowed in homes
  • Masks are compulsory in all indoor non-residential settings
  • The four-square-metre rule is back for indoor and outdoor settings and drinking while standing at indoor venues is not allowed
  • Dancing will not be allowed at indoor hospitality venues or nightclubs, but dancing is allowed at weddings for the wedding party (no more than 20 people)
  • Dance and gym classes are limited to 20 people per class and masks must be worn  

When does the lockdown end?  

  • Stay at home orders apply to Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour until 11.59pm on Friday, 9 July 2021 

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