The Minister for Aged Care, Ken Wyatt has released a review of infection control in two facilities that suffered severe influenza outbreaks in 2017 leading to several deaths. At the two facilities (St Johns Wangaratta and Strathdevon, Latrobe) an audit revealed errors in infection control with staff vaccination rates being very low, despite many residents being vaccinated.
The Quality Agency is reviewing infection control and is surveying outbreak management policies and staff vaccination rates at all aged care facilities.
All providers are being asked to review infection control practices to ensure that they can respond effectively to outbreaks from 2018 onwards.
Whether such policies will work is a moot point as some strains of flu seem to mutate quite rapidly and vaccination effectiveness during the 2017 flu season was only about 50 per cent.
Whether facility staff are vaccinated may be irrelevant if visitors to residents and suppliers who visit the facilities are not vaccinated. We will see whether the promised “more effective” vaccines available from 2018 will do the work required of them.