The Australian Institute of Health & Safety today called on Federal and State governments to immediately mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all staff, in all areas of their operations, and for all healthcare services to immediately implement this requirement.
Institute CEO David Clarke said, “we are seeing jurisdictions beginning to mandate vaccination in healthcare such as Western Australia, NSW and Tasmania and we urge all others to urgently do the same.”
“In the coming months as restrictions are reduced, we will see an increased transmission of COVID-19 in our communities, and the risks of major closures of health services will continue to rise.”
“COVID-19 and its variants will be with us for the longer term, so we must focus on where the greatest potential threat to public health lies. That threat is currently in our healthcare systems, where the impacts of even a single healthcare worker COVID-19 infection is multiplied many times, with flow-on effects that are dangerous to public health.”
“One infection, with large numbers of associated primary contacts isolating, can close a rural health service down completely. A small cluster of infections in a large hospital, with the associated large numbers of isolating contacts, can close sections of that hospital - or even the whole hospital completely. The impacts of closures like this have already been felt in Victoria’s 2020 wave, and many NSW hospitals are currently not able to provide normal levels of healthcare services” he said.
“The risks are not just about COVID-19 support services and access to ICU beds and respirators. It’s also on rural and regional health services, treatment of car accident victims, people with cancer, heart disease and stroke, children’s health - all other critical healthcare services. Unvaccinated healthcare workers in these settings present an unacceptable risk to their work colleagues, the public, and to our public health system itself.”
“Health services as employers have important duties to the health and safety of their staff and to the wider community, to control health risks and minimise impacts. Our healthcare staff, who do exceptional and challenging work under great pressure in our hospitals during COVID-19 waves, deserve to be working in as safe an environment as possible. That means the best possible workplace health and safety practices for everyone as far as reasonably practicable – and that includes not just effective PPE and all of the other critical procedures to minimise risks, but vaccinations for all staff as well. We have seen this done in other settings with influenza and other vaccines, and we need to do it, right now, with COVID-19 vaccines in healthcare.”
David Clarke is CEO of the Australian Institute of Health & Safety and a current member of the Victorian Healthcare Worker Infection Prevention and Wellbeing Taskforce.
AIHS Contact: Rebecca Turnbull
Tel. (03) 8336 1995
About the AIHS: with a more than 70-year history, the Australian Institute of Health & Safety is Australia’s national association for the health and safety profession, with a vision for safe and healthy people in productive workplaces and communities.