ASMOF supports mandatory COVID-19 vaccines for doctors

20-Aug-2021

On Wednesday 18 August 2021, ASMOF attended a meeting of peak medical bodies, NSW Health, and the NSW Minister for Health to discuss vaccine mandates for healthcare workers. ASMOF supported the NSW Governments plan to enact Public Health orders to make vaccinations mandatory for healthcare workers to minimise the risk of transmission in healthcare settings.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, ASMOF NSW President Dr. Tony Sara said:

“We support mandatory vaccinations as soon as practically possible. It’s the way to go for the safety of patients and staff”

Our support for mandatory vaccination for health workers came after State Council passed a motion on Tuesday night calling on the NSW Government to ensure that all healthcare workers are provided with an opportunity to be vaccinated and that the Government requires vaccination for healthcare workers according to a reasonable schedule.

Our State Council recognised the critical role of COVID-19 vaccination in minimising risks to occupational health and safety. We know that PPE is effective to protect healthcare workers, but particularly in the context of the highly transmissible Delta variant, we need to close the gaps. NSW Health has a responsibility to implement all “reasonably practicable control measures” to ensure the health and safety of their staff, and the requirement for vaccination is a key and reasonable control measure to protect the health workforce.

We have been raising concerns with the Ministry of Health for weeks about the risks associated with furloughing healthcare workers and closing wards every time there is an exposure event in hospitals, which places additional pressure on an already overwhelmed public health system and our members. We saw in the Victorian outbreak in 2020 that 10,000 frontline health care workers were impacted, which had significant consequences for access and delivery of health care.

At this point, the first dose will be required by September 30 and the second by November 30. We are awaiting clarifications from NSW Health about the feasibility of the September 30 date, noting potential issues with supply and access, and the need for effective information and education campaigns.

“The issues are the timelines, supply, and the logistics of administration. September 30 is still aspirational at this stage,” Dr. Tony Sara said.

We will update you once the Public Health order has been finalised and signed.

We encourage all health care works to get vaccinated now to protect yourself, your colleagues, and your patients.