NSW is the first jurisdiction to mandate vaccinations for all healthcare staff, including for administration workers and cleaners. Workers in that state must have a first dose by September 30.
Hospital workers should be the first focus, including cleaners and cooks, Dr Khorshid said, but any worker in the healthcare sector should eventually be included in the mandate.
“We’re already seeing in NSW that healthcare settings such as pharmacies and GP practices have become transmission sites, and they really shouldn’t,” he said. “You should be able to go to one of those facilities knowing that all staff are protected.”
Mandatory vaccinations for high-risk populations is supported by a vast majority of voters. An exclusive survey by Resolve Political Monitor survey for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age found 82 per cent of people agreed or strongly agreed that “high-risk occupations, like aged care or quarantine, should require workers to be vaccinated”.
The federal government has mandated vaccines for aged care workers, and all staff must have at least one dose by September 17.
Private companies have also brought in their own vaccination requirements. Airlines Qantas and Virgin now require all staff to be immunised, while food manufacturer SPC was the first major Australian company to announce it would require its staff to get vaccinated.
Dr Khorshid, however, said nationally consistent public health orders, issued by each state and territory, would provide legal protection to any employer who could establish that workers’ safety would benefit from mandatory vaccination.
“We know it’s very complex and expensive for small employers to meet with legalities required,” he said.
“The national cabinet should be talking about how can we make it easier for businesses to do the right thing in order to protect their customers and their workers.”