'The next step': Australia mulls controversial passport idea

·3-min read

Almost three-quarters of Australians would back a Covid-19 vaccine passport, a new poll shows, as health officials weigh up a potential nationwide policy.

In the first survey of Australian attitudes to a jab mandate, 73 per cent of respondents agreed the government should make it compulsory for work, travel and study.

David Smith, the lead author of the University of Sydney and University of Western Australia study, noted that was more than the 66 per cent who reported they would get the shot voluntarily.

"It's a surprising finding," Associate Professor Smith said in a statement on Sunday.

"A lot of people who are hesitant would approve of the government making a vaccine a requirement to go to work or study.

"There would be wide political support for a mandate with some small pockets of opposition based on broader dissatisfaction with government."

A heath worker prepares to inject the Covid-19 trial vaccine into a patient.
A heath worker prepares to inject the Covid-19 trial vaccine into a patient.

Vaccine passport 'the next step': PM

Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday said he was open to the idea of vaccine passports as his medical expert panel continues to consider it.

"That is the next step, but I do think that next step is some way away," Mr Morrison told Melbourne radio station 3AW.

"If you're fully vaccinated, that you would be able to travel, certainly around Australia, but maybe overseas, without the need for hotel quarantine."

The study's authors said mandate measures could take the form of vaccine passports, taxes and incentives, denial of access to public or private institutions, border entry or re-entry, or forced and unfunded hotel quarantine for travellers.

"Our research suggests there will be fairly widespread - though far from universal - acceptance of those measures in Australia, and probably less political contention than we are seeing in the US," Prof Smith said.

Passengers arriving from Melbourne are screened by health workers at the airport in Sydney.
Sydney healthcare workers screen Melbourne arrivals at the airport in February. Source: AAP

Victoria, Queensland and Western Australia are among states to already mandate the coronavirus jab for some hotel quarantine and health workers.

The study, published in journal Politics on Friday, was based on polling of 1200 Australians from June 2020 – well before rare but deadly AstraZeneca-linked blood clots forced a reset of the nation's vaccine rollout.

Despite the survey being taken almost 12 months ago, its results are comparable to a recent Roy Morgan poll which found 69 per cent of Australians were still willing to get the jab.

It also found older, higher income, and Liberal, National and Labor voters were all significantly more likely to take a coronavirus vaccine and support government requirements.

More than 2,600,000 vaccine doses have now been administered in Australia, with 26,613 coming in the past 24 hours to Saturday – less than half the federal government's targets by this time.

Passengers lining up to check in for Qantas flight QF143, an Airbus A330, the first one for the airline to New Zealand as it travels out of Sydney's International Airport en route from Australia to New Zealand.
People in Sydney prepare to board a flight to New Zealand. Source: Getty Images

WHO against vaccine passports

Last month, the World Health Organisation said it would not support vaccination passports, with Dr Mike Ryan, who heads the Covid-19 response, calling it a "complex issue".

He said such a scheme would discriminate against poorer nations who had not yet managed to inoculate their populations.

"There are ethical issues regarding equity, we already have a huge issue with vaccine equity in the world,” he said in Geneva.

WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris also said they were concerned about how effective vaccines are at preventing transmission.

with AAP

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