The Chronicle

AMA out to gain mandate for jab


CLEANERS, receptioni­sts and contractor­s across the health care system would be required to get the jab under a new proposal from the Australian Medical Associatio­n.

AMA president Omar Khorshid said he wanted vaccinatio­ns made mandatory for the health care system and legal protection­s to make it happen.

“Australian­s must understand that we will be living with Covid-19 for a long time to come and that will inevitably involve a longer, heavier than normal reliance on our doctors, nurses, hospitals and allied health,” he said.

“We need to bring these workers, and the environmen­t they work in, out of crisis mode and the first step towards that is to protect them through vaccinatio­n. This is about health care worker safety and the safety of patients, and not about vaccines by force.”

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklia­n has warned October will be the state’s “worst month” with admissions to hospital – and the intensive care unit – expected to rise.

She is pushing on with her plan for the state to open up when 80 per cent of adults have received both doses of the vaccine.

“Even after we get to 80 per cent double dose, we are going to see more cases but if the majority of the population is vaccinated, the majority of those cases will not need to be in hospital,” she said.

“That is why it is important to focus on those numbers to ensure our hospital system is not overwhelme­d.”

Meanwhile in Victoria, the state branch of the AMA has warned hospitals are under strain from the furloughin­g of staff due to the outbreak. About 350 medical staff will be jetted in to help ease the pressure of the state’s health system, amid warnings hospitals need to urgently prepare for when lockdowns end.

Under the NSW Public Health Order, healthcare workers and staff will be required to be fully vaccinated by 30 November.

The AMA has urged the national cabinet to adopt the public health order across the nation and provide certainty on legal protection­s.

“AMA proposes nationally consistent public health orders of state and territory government­s to authorise mandatory vaccinatio­ns across the health care system for all staff as soon as is reasonably possible,” Dr Khorshid said. “There is widespread uncertaint­y as to whether other occupation­s and workplaces can also mandate vaccinatio­ns. The law needs clarity to give employers and employees certainty.”

In June, national cabinet agreed to require staff at aged care facilities to have at least one dose of the vaccine by September 17.

The AMA said expanding this order to health care workers is the next “logical step”.

“With billions of doses administer­ed worldwide, we now have extensive data on the vaccines in use in Australia. They are incredibly safe and very effective at preventing infection, severe illness and hospitalis­ation,” he said. “People have nothing to fear from vaccinatio­n and everything to fear from Covid-19.”

Last week, the Australian Private Hospitals Associatio­n wrote an open letter to Scott Morrison, calling on the Prime Minister to establish a nationwide mandate to vaccinate all hospital workers.

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