Australia

Government urged to mandate COVID-19 jabs with rollout plan for all health workers

The national cabinet is being urged to make vaccinations compulsory for all hospital staff and create a rollout plan to ensure every worker has a date in their diary to get a jab.

The call came as NSW reported another 105 cases on Sunday alongside the death of a woman in her 90s, the fourth fatality in the current outbreak.

Victoria also reported an additional 17 cases.

Catholic Health Australia, which represents Catholic not-for-profit hospitals, said every year healthcare staff are required to get vaccinated against the flu but yet there is no such directive for COVID.

“The high transmissibility of the Delta variant of COVID is putting workers and the people they care for at greater risk as well as putting extra strain on staff,” CHA’s health policy director James Kemp said.

“We need a single, uniform rule across Australia for everyone working in a hospital environment.”

He said CHA’s members are already redeploying unvaccinated staff to clinical areas where there is a lower risk of contact with COVID patients and vaccinating staff as and when Commonwealth supplies become available.

Meanwhile, business and unions have warned of the big blow to the economy from the NSW state government’s decision to shut down the construction industry in the Greater Sydney region as part of tighter restrictions.

“Big projects aren’t a tap that can simply be turned on or off, so we need to start planning now to reopen,” Business Council of Australia chief executive Jennifer Westacott said.

“We have to find ways to live with this virus while we wait for the vaccine rollout to take off, which we know will happen rapidly when new supplies arrive.”

Economists were already estimating the cost of the twin shutdowns in Australia’s two major cities at some $10 billion even before the NSW government tightened restrictions further on Saturday.

The Greater Sydney lockdown at this stage is due to end on 30 July, while Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters it was too early to say whether his state’s lockdown will end as planned this week.

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