WA hospital pharmacists are among those who will be expected to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19
It will soon be mandatory for Western Australian health workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to access health facilities for work purposes, the WA Government announced.
The Chief Health Officer has approved new Health Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions, which apply to health care and support workers across health care facilities. This includes public and private hospitals and public health service facilities.
Mandatory vaccination for the health workforce will be introduced in a staged approach, with workers in the highest risk settings needing to be vaccinated first.
From October 1, health care and health support workers in public and private hospitals will need to have had at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access tier one facilities, which include intensive care units, high dependency units, respiratory wards, emergency departments, COVID-19 clinics, COVID-19 vaccination clinics and hospital wards with designated respiratory beds in certain regional hospitals. These workers will need to be fully vaccinated by 1 November.
From November 1, health care and health support workers need to be fully vaccinated to enter tier one health care facilities.
Also from November 1, health care workers will need to have had at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access tier two facilities, which include all public and private hospitals. These workers will need to be fully vaccinated by December 1.
From December 1, all other health support workers will need to have had at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access tier two facilities, which include all public and private hospitals. They will need to be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022.
Also from December 1, health care workers and health support workers will need to have had at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access tier three facilities, which include all public health service facilities including support services, Department of Health and health service provider sites. These workers will need to be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022.
“Health care workers” include those who provide heath, medical, nursing, pathology, pharmaceutical, social work or allied health services to a patient at a health care facility in any capacity; students on placement; and ambulance officers.
“Health support workers” include those who provide goods or services at a health care facility.
The Health Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions provide exemptions for certain categories of employees, which include medical exemptions and other temporary exemptions.
“Given the integrated nature of the WA Health system, this means there are risks for all WA Health system employees, even if they are not on the frontline,” said Health Minister Roger Cook.
“That is why it is vital that we ensure our entire health care workforce is vaccinated against COVID-19 – this will benefit patients, the workers and the broader community.
“It will also provide better protection for our health care workforce in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
“At those times, as ever, we need our health staff to be healthy and ready to do their vital jobs.
“The new directions will mean it is a legal requirement for the health care workforce to be vaccinated against COVID-19, in order to attend their place of work.
“It is an offence to fail to comply with the directions, punishable by a fine of up to $20,000.
“While sanctions are built into the directions, I am sure the overwhelming majority of the health workforce will want to do the right thing and ensure they are vaccinated.”
Community pharmacies are not mentioned in the announcement, though earlier this week Australian Medical Association national president Dr Omar Khorshid called for every health worker, including those in community pharmacy nationwide, be subject to mandatory COVID-19 vaccination.
“SHPA supports and encourages their members to follow advice released by federal and state/territory governments, and to get vaccinated. In many regions hospital workers are already subject to mandatory vaccination status checks when working in hospitals and aged care facilities,” a spokesperson for the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia told the AJP in response to Dr Khorshid’s comments.