The Hon. Greg Hunt MP
Minister for Health and Aged Care
11 March 2022
The Morrison Government is investing $2.1 billion to protect Australians against COVID-19 and influenza this winter.
The approach to managing COVID-19 and influenza over the winter months will focus on minimising the health impacts – with a particular focus on protecting those most at risk of severe illness – while supporting the economy.
This year’s winter season will likely see the co-circulation of COVID-19 and influenza viruses, which we have not seen significant transmission of since 2019.
Although it is difficult to predict the scale of these transmission events, the national approach supported by the Morrison Government prepares for the contingency of possible large outbreaks.
The Government will invest $2.1 billion to support health responses and further build up the resilience of Australia’s healthcare systems – including by extending the COVID-19 National Partnership Agreement to 30 September 2022.
The investment to support Australia’s winter preparedness includes:
- $1.2 billion to protect the residential aged care and disability care sectors,
- $356 million to protect other vulnerable population groups, and
- $571 million for vaccines.
The measures that will be put in place will help to protect health system capacity, support high-risk groups such as aged care residents, and ensure the supply of essential goods and services if disruptions occur.
A coordinated strategy will support the health system and economy by protecting those at risk of severe disease and minimising transmission to a level where case numbers and absenteeism does not significantly impact on the functioning of Australian society.
Businesses and individuals will play a vital role as we head into winter by continuing to follow public health advice on protective measures, planning ahead for any potential disruptions and ensuring they are vaccinated.
This funding will continue to support the National Coronavirus Helpline and Healthdirect support for triage and management of COVID-19 patients and maintain the network of general practice respiratory clinics.
It will also maintain community care pathways coordinated across Primary Health Networks and Local Hospital Networks by providing personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supports to general practices managing respiratory patients.
Residential aged care residents remain a high priority due to the increased susceptibility of aged care residents to severe disease, and the potential for outbreaks and workforce absenteeism
Outbreak response measures and management procedures are already in place to protect residents and other high-risk population groups.
Investment in Rapid Antigen Tests and Personal Protective Equipment
As part of an overall $2.1 billion investment in winter preparedness, the Commonwealth is proposing to extend the concessional Rapid Antigen Test program until 31 July 2022, in partnership with the states. In addition, we will also purchase six months of supply of PPE for aged care and disability requirements.
National Partnership on the COVID-19 Response
Through the National Partnership on the COVID-19 Response (COVID NPA), the Commonwealth has provided over $9.9 billion in additional hospital and health funding to assist jurisdictions with the health impacts of COVID-19.
On top of the $2.1 billion investment, the Commonwealth has agreed to extend the COVID NPA for a further three months to 30 September 2022, in recognition of the ongoing impacts of the Omicron outbreak.
National Immunisation Program
The focus on preparing for the coming winter and future winter seasons builds on Australia’s strong track record of protecting at-risk Australians through the National Immunisation Program (NIP).
The Morrison Government is well prepared for the 2022 influenza season and has secured supply of influenza vaccines for the NIP consistent with previous years.
Children under five, pregnant women, people 65 years and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and people with medical conditions that put them at greater risk of becoming seriously ill from influenza can receive their vaccines free of charge through the NIP. The NIP offers a specific, enhanced influenza vaccine to protect older people.
More than 9.5 million government influenza doses will be available for the 2022 season – just up on the more than 9.4 million in 2020 and 2021 – and more than 600,000 Pneumococcal vaccine doses which are utilised throughout the year but peak during the influenza season.
The Government spends more than $450 million annually on the NIP of which more than $100 million is for annual influenza vaccinations and more than $35 million for Pneumococcal, to protect Australians in at-risk population groups.
Australians are also encouraged to make sure that they are up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations, which will also protect them during the winter months.
All Australians who are currently eligible for a COVID-19 vaccine or booster, and who have not yet acted are urged to make a booking as soon as possible to get vaccinated.
Please use the COVID-19 Clinic Finder and make your appointment.
|WINTER PREPAREDNESS – PLACEMAT||Spend $m (UC)
5 year impact (2021-22 to 2025-26)
|Key Strategies (Total Winter Expenditure)|
|Residential Aged Care and Disability||(1,207.8)|
|TOTAL Winter Expenditure||(2,108.0)|
|Vaccination (includes funding to 31 Dec)|
|COVID-19 Vaccine Program Delivery||(70.9)|
|COVID-19 Vaccine Administration Channels||(499.8)|
|TOTAL Vaccination Expenditure||(570.7)|
|COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) Concessional Access Program Extension||(286.2)|
|Extension of COVID-19 Remote and Indigenous Response Measures||(43.3)|
|TOTAL Vulnerable Populations Expenditure||(329.5)|
|Residential Aged Care and Disability|
|Home Visits for COVID-19 in Residential Aged Care Facilities||(7.9)|
|Extending Support under the Aged Care Preparedness Measure||(124.9)|
|Training for Authorised Nurse Immunisers in Residential Aged Care||(50.4)|
|Aged Care Infection Prevention and Control Training Measure||(37.6)|
|COVID-19 Testing in Aged Care||(22.1)|
|Continued Critical Supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to the National Medical Stockpile (6 Months)||(964.9)|
|TOTAL Residential Aged Care and Disability Expenditure||(1,207.8)|