Vaccine rollout changes must not leave workers behind

The ACTU is calling for clarity around any changes to the Morrison Government’s troubled vaccine rollout – especially when it comes to how and when workers in aged care and disability support will receive the vaccination.

Workers in these frontline healthcare sectors were told repeatedly by the Morrison Government that they were in the 1A group and would receive the vaccine as soon as possible, but months into the rollout large numbers of aged care workers remain unvaccinated while only a tiny percentage of disability support workers have received the jab.

Ensuring that the workers who care for our vulnerable aged care and disability residents are supported to be vaccinated is critical. We know from previous outbreaks that it is the highly insecure and casual workers in these sectors that unwittingly introduced the disease into these vulnerable settings.

The ACTU understands that changes are likely to be made to the rollout at today’s National Cabinet meeting. Unions are concerned that some changes may risk further delaying the vaccination of workers in aged care and disability support.

Any change to the vaccine rollout must ensure that these workers – many of whom are in insecure work – do not have to give up shifts and income to get vaccinated, or in the event that they have side effects which prevent them from working. We must remember the lessons learnt in providing support for insecure workers who needed to get tested or isolate at home when recalibrating the vaccination program.

Quotes attributable to ACTU Assistant Secretary Liam O’Brien,

“Any changes to the vaccine rollout must provide certainty for frontline aged care and disability support workers and be communicated clearly to all affected workers.

“We cannot create a system which asks insecure, low paid workers to choose between getting vaccinated and getting paid. The Morrison Government must ensure that anyone who needs to take time off work to get a vaccination or to recover from any routine side-effects is supported. Failure to do this will only increase hesitancy.

“The vaccine rollout is lagging months behind schedule and the workers who kept us safe through the worst of the pandemic deserve to know when and how they will receive the vaccines they have been promised by the Federal Government.

“The decision by the Morrison Government to outsource the vaccine rollout has been a disaster. Tax payers have a right to know where their money is being spent, what elements of its responsibility the Morrison Government has chosen to contract out and why they have not used existing, proven public health infrastructure for this critical program.”

/Public Release. This material comes from the originating organization and may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. View in full here.