The government will move to make it mandatory for workers in the aged care sector to be vaccinated against COVID-19, but is yet to set a date by which the requirement would come into effect.
The measure will need to be enacted by public health orders by state and territory governments, in the same way the requirement for the influenza vaccine was made mandatory, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said following national cabinet on Friday.
"We are leaning heavily into this, make no mistake, we are leaning heavily into this as government and myself as Prime Minister to see a move towards mandatory vaccination for aged care workers," Mr Morrison said.
"We have had further advice from the AHPPC to advise how that can be done including a timeline how that can be achieved and and will be waiting for such advice."
Mr Morrison said states and territories were committed to ensuring workers in aged care and disability care could get vaccinated as a priority. Since the lockdown in Victoria, that state has introduced fast lanes for aged care workers in its vaccine hubs.
Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee will "continue monitoring the situation and provide advice national cabinet including on any evidence supporting a future move to mandatory vaccination".
Professor Kelly said the committee would consider what had happened in places like Western Australia, where some security guards gave up their positions working in hotel quarantine after it was made mandatory for them to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
"We know that that could be an issue so we don't want that to be an issue," he said.
"We are really focusing on our culturally and linguistically diverse workforce that are often working on these particular settings to make sure they have the full truth and understanding of the vaccine."
Mr Morrison said national cabinet had not gone against the advice of the principal health committee regarding the move to mandatory vaccination for the high-risk workforce, but was taking advice to ensure there wasn't an adverse effect on the workforce by the decision.
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