All healthcare workers in New South Wales are now required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, becoming the first Australian state to implement such mandate. In a new public health order, Health Minister Brad Hazzard said that healthcare workers should receive their first dose by September 30, and then be fully vaccinated by November 30.
Covered by the mandate are staff members working for public and private healthcare sectors.
“The public and private health systems have a responsibility to implement every possible measure to provide a safe work environment for their staff and most importantly, safe circumstances for their patients,” Hazzard said in a statement.
Those who fail to present proof of vaccination to their employers will be “excluded from the workplace,” according to the order, though exemptions can be made for those with medical contraindications.
The initiative makes NSW the first state to mandate vaccines for healthcare staff, with Hazzard attributing it to the growing burden on the healthcare system, adding that over 1,200 healthcare workers have been put in isolation over the past seven days.
“It will also ease pressure on our health system during this challenging time. More than 1,200 healthcare workers have been in isolation each day over the past seven days and we cannot afford that right now,” the minister said.
“Vaccinations will help ensure our fantastic staff can continue to care for patients.”
Frontline healthcare workers and their families have been prioritised in COVID-19 vaccinations since the jabs were rolled out in February. So far, 80% of NSW Health staff have received their first COVID-19 vaccine, said the minister.
“Many health workers in NSW are already vaccinated but if all of our staff are vaccinated it will provide greater protection for patients, visitors and other health staff,” he added.
According to the ministry statement, unions, peak bodies, and private health providers were consulted prior to the directive’s implementation.
“We will all work together to help staff meet this obligation,” read the media release from the ministry.