Australian employers can now reward fully vaccinated staff

But can incentives actually reduce hesitancy?

Australian employers can now reward fully vaccinated staff

New guidelines from Australia’s medicine regulator will give companies the freedom to incentivise and advertise their own COVID-19 vaccination programmes. The update from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) aims to “give health professionals and Australian businesses more flexibility to contribute to the national conversation about vaccination,” and that includes publishing their own information campaigns and rewarding their fully vaccinated staff, officials said.

“Businesses can now supplement Government public health campaigns through offers of practical support (including rewards) that encourage Australians to be vaccinated,” the TGA said. Incentives can come in the form of cash, gift cards, vouchers and other similar perks, with the exception of liquor and tobacco products. The rewards may be given to a class of recipients, such as employees and their family members, or to members of the community.

Read more: Victoria enforces mandatory COVID-19 check-ins in shops

The rules on incentives were developed to reduce hesitancy and assure Australians that the COVID immunisation is safe. Employers, however, can only reward staff members who have completed their vaccination regimen. This means, workers should have first received both doses (as required by certain brands) before they can claim their incentives.

Read more: Vaccination incentives shouldn't be 'coercive'

To encourage greater uptake across communities, employers have also received the green light to launch their own health information campaigns. Prior to the COVID vaccination drive this year, the promotion of vaccine products had been strictly monitored by the authorities. Most campaigns only used materials produced by the government and provided basic details such as distribution areas and availability.

The new rules, however, leave employers, healthcare providers and the media free to create their own messaging as long as their campaign materials echo the same information from public health authorities and that these do not include false or exaggerated claims about the vaccines. The information drive must not endorse any specific brand or compare them.

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