WA enforces virus jabs for health workers

·2-min read

Western Australia has introduced strict new coronavirus vaccination requirements for all healthcare workers and support staff while tightening its border to Victoria.

The tough new rules will be rolled out in stages and will trickle down to staff including cleaners, maintenance workers and security guards.

From October 1, all staff must have had a first dose to access "tier one" facilities including intensive care units, respiratory wards, emergency departments and vaccination clinics.

They must be fully vaccinated by November 1.

At tier two facilities including public and private hospitals, all healthcare workers must receive one dose by November and be fully vaccinated by December. Hospital support workers will follow the same process a month later.

By January, all healthcare workers and support staff will need to be fully vaccinated to access any designated public health service facilities, including the Department of Health headquarters.

"We want to see the vaccination rate go as high as we can in Western Australia and this is the way forward," Health Minister Roger Cook told reporters on Thursday.

"While sanctions are built into the directions for health workers who refuse to get vaccinated, I am sure the overwhelming majority of the health workforce will want to do the right thing and ensure that they are vaccinated."

About 68 per cent of the total West Australian health workforce has been fully vaccinated, based on data from state-run clinics which does not include those who may have been jabbed by their GPs.

"If an individual does not wish to be vaccinated, they will need to seek other employment and that is their choice," Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson said.

The shift to mandatory vaccinations for healthcare workers has been backed by the Australian Medical Association.

Australian Nursing Federation WA state secretary Mark Olson also supported the move but said anyone who chose not to be jabbed should be allowed to take leave and keep their jobs.

He remained concerned about a potential staff exodus when vaccinations become mandatory for aged care workers later this month.

WA will meanwhile tighten its hard border to Victoria from Monday, requiring any arrivals to prove they have had at least one vaccine dose.

The decision to shift the state to a "high risk" category comes after Victoria recorded 176 new cases on Thursday.

Most Victorians are already locked out of WA under the existing hard border arrangement.

About a third of West Australian adults are now fully vaccinated.

Mr Cook said there was "good momentum" building in the rollout despite WA continuing to trail other states.

Just under 11 per cent of Indigenous people are fully vaccinated, a figure Mr Cook described as far too low.

He said WA Health had begun rolling out targeted communication to Indigenous communities but insisted the federal government also needed to lift its efforts.

WA Health is monitoring 13 active cases after recording no new infections overnight.

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