The Federal Government’s plan to set up mass vaccination sites through Phase 2 of the COVID-19 immunisation plan will be successful for all Australians if nurses lead the planned rollout, according to the Australian College of Nursing (ACN).
The plans were discussed by Secretary of the Commonwealth Department of Health, Professor Brendan Murphy, during Senate Estimates this week.
Chief Executive Officer of the Australian College of Nursing, Adjunct Professor Kylie Ward FACN, welcomed the information from Professor Murphy, but said the immediate risk is that these sites will not be viable unless the mass vaccination clinics are set up as a nurse-led model.
“To effectively set up these vaccination sites, nurses need to be at the forefront of every single workforce discussion,” Adjunct Professor Ward said.
“Unless there are clear guidelines to involve nurse leaders in these mass vaccination sites, they risk creating longer lines and delays in the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Adjunct Professor Ward said that nurses had spent much of the last year upskilling themselves to prepare for the rollout of mass vaccination clinics.
“Thousands of nurses have been undertaking immunisation training and the COVID-19 vaccine training, ready to support the government with this national public health strategy,” Adjunct Professor Ward said.
“This is a workforce that is ready to deploy to support Australians in receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.”
Adjunct Professor Ward said that the sites should be modelled on overseas examples which have required significant numbers of additional staff to support their operations.
“In the United Kingdom, we know that mass vaccination sites require significant additional staffing requirements, and there is a real risk if we do not adjust our systems that they will not be able to sustain without a nurse-led model,” Adjunct Professor Ward said.
“Nurses need to be at the centre of any mass vaccination model.”
Adjunct Professor Ward said that a nurse-led mass vaccination rollout could easily be built on models which already exist in Australia, such as those which happen in schools and local councils.
“Nurse-led models such as these are already effective for delivering large-scale vaccination numbers and would be easy to adapt to a mass vaccination model.”