All aged care workers in Australia will get compulsory flu vaccines following a spate of deaths in nursing homes, the federal health minister Greg Hunt has announced.
The announcement came on Sunday after six residents of a Tasmanian nursing home died and seven residents at a Victorian aged care home died in the two weeks up to Wednesday.
"It has never happened in Australia, during the period while the flu vaccines have been available," the minister said.
There was a 20-day delay between the Victorian Health Department notifying the Commonwealth about the situation, the minister said.
The outbreak in Victoria killed seven people aged between 70 to 94 at St John's Retirement Village in Wangaratta between August 16 to 30.
"We are at the peak of one of the worst flu seasons ever and the elderly are one of highest-risk groups," Victorian chief health officer Dr Brett Sutton said on Friday.
In Tasmania, Uniting Agewell confirmed six residents died because of an influenza outbreak at the Strathdevon aged care facility at Latrobe between August 9 and 16.
"It has been the worst flu season witnessed across Australia and a very difficult time for people in aged care," acting chief executive Graeme Barnes said.
Mr Barnes said the facility was cleared of the illness on August 30.