COVID-19: Should vaccine be mandatory in these sectors?

There will be 'no shortcuts' in the vaccination process

COVID-19: Should vaccine be mandatory in these sectors?

There will be “no shortcuts” in the vaccination process across Australia, according to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, but experts are already sounding the alarm over which sectors need the COVID-19 vaccine urgently.

Two of these groups are quarantine hotel staff and aged care staff. The first group requires inoculation immediately because they are exposed to international travellers who are required to self-isolate in specially designated hotels; the second group, because of their close contact with elderly patients, who are also among the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Read more: Australia’s vaccine rollout set to begin in March

Speaking to the Herald Sun, epidemiology professor Dr. Tony Blakely said all quarantine hotel workers must be vaccinated first before the government allows travellers back into the country.

Without the immunisation of frontline staff, the only other option to control transmission is for officials to close the borders and ban travellers returning from overseas. This should prevent newer, more contagious strains of the coronavirus from spreading further across the community.

Quarantine hotels have long been a hotbed for transmission. The new strain that emerged in the UK was purportedly traced to at least four cases involving hotel and shuttle service staff.

But vaccination should also be made mandatory for aged care staff, according to an industry leader.

Sean Rooney, CEO of Leading Age Services Australia, says there should be strict rules for elderly-care workers looking to opt out of immunisation.

Read more: Can you force employees to take the vaccine?

“As with the influenza vaccine during the last flu season, we believe COVID-19 vaccines should be mandatory for aged care workers, with tight exceptions,” Rooney said, as quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Liberal MP and former doctor, Katie Allen, believes inoculation should be compulsory for aged care staff “not only for their own safety but for those they care for”.

Certain groups will be given priority in the vaccination drive. Quarantine and aged care staff, along with medical frontliners, are indeed high on the list. However, immunisation remains voluntary.

The Morrison government is hoping to administer the vaccine to 80,000 recipients per week beginning in mid-February for an overall target of four million recipients by the end of March.

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