Advocates Warn Vaccine Stroll-Out Makes People with Disability ‘Sitting Ducks’

28 July 2021

Call For More Transparency Around Disability Vaccination Data

Advocates have warned people with disability will die or end up in intensive care after it was revealed an unvaccinated resident of another disability care home had caught COVID-19.

The COVID-19 case in Sydney’s Lakemba area yesterday came after what is now eight cases at the six-bed Unisson Disability home in Parklea.

A Unisson staff member who worked across two homes is one among what is now four staff at the home now diagnosed with the virus.

Residents of the new disability care home affected are unvaccinated and are being urgently tested for COVID-19.

New South Wales health officials are seeking to fully vaccinate the residents of all the western and south-western Sydney homes in the coming days and weeks.

People with Disability Australia (PWDA) President Samantha Connor said the Federal Government must rapidly address its poor vaccination rates of people with disability against COVID-19.

“People with disability are sitting ducks for catching Delta thanks to Australia’s stroll-out of COVID-19 vaccines to people with disability,” Ms Connor said.

“National Cabinet must up its game on vaccination rates of adults with disability in this country, especially in residential settings, or we will end up in the nation’s ICUs or die from the virus after missing out on being vaccinated.

“There must be a clear plan of action and timeframes to complete phase 1a and 1b of the vaccine rollout.”

Australia has poor vaccination rates of people with disability

Figures from late June revealed only 5,000 Australians in disability care – fewer than one in five people – were fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Yesterday Disability Minister Linda Reynolds acknowledged the slow rollout of vaccine to people with disability, in an interview with Sky News, revealing 60 per cent of people in disability care were vaccinated.

Eighteen per cent of the Australian population – an estimated 4.4 million people – have disability.

While Australia’s governments share the age, gender and vaccination status of people who have died of COVID, they’re not in the practice of sharing whether people who have died had disability.

“Australia needs to be more upfront about whether people with disability are dying from the virus like in other countries,” Ms Connor said.

PWDA is calling on the government to release stats on disability vaccination rates on at least a weekly basis.

“National Cabinet must improve its data-sharing practices on COVID-19 and also report the number of people with disability being vaccinated in Australia on a weekly basis,” Ms Connor said.

“It’s been a month since the government officially shared how many people with disability have been vaccinated in this country – this is unacceptable, we need weekly vaccination stats.

“Australia has abysmal rates of vaccinations of people with disability and it’s time the nation turned this around by finishing the job on the phase 1a and 1b vaccine rollouts to the disability community.”

The Federal Government is expected to release national statistics on vaccination rates on a daily basis going forward.

Ten people in Australia have died with COVID-19 in New South Wales during the latest outbreak of the Delta variant, with one of these people having no pre-existing conditions.

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Michael Badorrek, Marketing and Communications Manager
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Amanda Ellis, Senior Policy Officer
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media@pwd.org.au