Australia’s highly anticipated coronavirus vaccine rollout has been hindered by delays as aged-care residents are left waiting for their promised jabs.
The hold-ups come as the federal government begins reviewing the findings of the aged-care royal commission report which has been two years in the making.
The Victorian Health Department is currently assessing whether unused vials of vaccine at a Werribee Aged Care centre can still be used after they were thawed and refrigerated.
Elsewhere, a number of facilities in New South Wales were hit with last-minute cancellations due to a bungled vaccination at a Brisbane aged care home earlier this week.
In Sydney’s south, Moran Aged Care at Engadine had expected vaccines to arrive on Wednesday morning, only to be told there had been a delay.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has moved to reassure those in her state the program was “running like clockwork”.
There have been reports that vaccine doses have arrived at the wrong aged care homes.
Two elderly patients on Tuesday were given accidental overdoses of the Pfizer jab in Queensland.
Meanwhile, the aged-care royal commission handed its final report to the federal government after years of harrowing evidence at hearings across the nation.
Governor-General David Hurley received the report, which is likely to include more than one hundred recommendations for reform, at Sydney’s Admiralty House on Friday.
Patricia Sparrow, the CEO of Aged Care and Community Services, stressed the importance of elderly residents having access to the “life-saving vaccine”.
Ms Sparrow called the dosage bungle in Brisbane “unacceptable”.
“But we have to make sure that we are delivering the vaccine safely,” she told Nine’s Today show.
The inquiry’s report was a major “opportunity” for Australia, she said.
The inquiry was told tales of abuse and neglect, with its 2019 interim report recommending a complete overhaul of a “woefully inadequate” system.
The government will review the report over the weekend and provide an interim response by the middle of next week, Health Minister Greg Hunt has said.
“We are anticipating it could be well over a thousand pages and there could be more than a hundred recommendations,” he told reporters on Thursday.
A more detailed response is expected by the May federal budget.
The commission’s interim report found pay and conditions for staff were poor, workloads heavy and there were severe difficulties in recruitment and retention.
It also found there was an overuse of drugs to “restrain” aged care residents and younger people with disabilities were stuck in aged care.
Lawyers assisting the commission have made 124 reform recommendations, including for mandated staffing ratios, increased regulator powers and new laws to protect the rights of elderly people.
The sector, which is predominantly funded by the Commonwealth, has come under increased scrutiny during the pandemic with 685 aged care residents dying from COVID-19.
The federal government has poured extra money into aged care in recent years, and announced in December a $1 billion boost aimed largely at creating 10,000 more home care packages.
Some 240,000 Australians currently live in residential aged care.
The commission heard from 641 witnesses and received more than 10,500 submissions.