Experts call on vaccine mandate, choice

Australian medical experts have called for all eligible members of the public to be given the choice of which COVID-19 vaccine to receive

Such a move would ensure maximum possible uptake, they say.

“Covid 19 is a clear and present danger in Australia and there is an urgent need to optimize vaccination uptake,” said Professor Robert Booy, Director of the Immunisation Coalition.

Dr Rod Pearce, Chairman of the group, said that, “The Immunisation Coalition is calling for members of the public to get vaccinated as soon as possible and suggesting to the government that all eligible people be given the choice of vaccination, given that the supplies of mRNA vaccines have markedly increased.

Prof Booy went on to say: “The 70% double vaccination rate can be reached within a few weeks and 80% uptake could follow within a further two weeks”.

“However, protection of the public will be even greater, and better if we continue to promote vaccine uptake as high as possible, for example 90%.

“The equity in having a choice for all, whether aged above or below 60, and the large improvement in vaccine supply, can together lead to both far better vaccine uptake and public protection.

“We may have to live with Covid-19, but its impact can be greatly mitigated with higher vaccine uptake.”

The call comes as community pharmacies prepare to begin administering Moderna’s SPIKEVAX, which will only be available via the community pharmacy channel.

Meanwhile the Australian Medical Association has reiterated its call for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for all healthcare workers, including pharmacists.

AMA President Omar Khorshid called for National Cabinet to act urgently on nationally-consistent public health orders for such mandatory vaccination, as well as for legal protection for healthcare employers who mandate vaccinations for all their staff.

“Most health care providers in Australia are small businesses that don’t have the time or resources needed to navigate complex work health and safety laws,” he said.

“We need to make it easier for them to be able to mandate vaccination, which is the best way to protect their staff and patients.”

The AMA welcomed reports on Wednesday that Victoria will soon follow NSW, Western Australia, Tasmania and Queensland and make COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory for healthcare workers.

Dr Khorshid said the Federal Government needed to co-ordinate States and Territories through the National Cabinet to ensure a nationally-consistent approach to mandatory vaccination that included everyone – GPs and practice staff, pharmacists, hospital staff, ambulance staff, cooks and cleaners – leaving no exemptions, except for legitimate medical reasons.

“I am confident that most healthcare workers faced with a very clear message from employers and government that they must get vaccinated will go and do the right thing – it’s the right thing by their patients because it is not fair for a sick patient to be potentially exposed to COVID because staff refused to do the right thing,” he said.

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