National cabinet has agreed to make vaccinations mandatory for all aged care workers following an emergency meeting on Monday night.
The government will also introduce a no-fault indemnity scheme for general practitioners, paving the way for GPs to give the Astra Zeneca vaccine to anyone under 60 who is happy to have it.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that aged care workers will have to have had their first dose by mid-September as a condition of working in an aged care facility.
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“This is not something any government should do lightly. Imposing on a person the requirement to have a vaccine or not be able to work in a particular sector is something that no government would do lightly,” Mr Morrison said.
The government will provide grants to aged care facilities to allow workers to take leave to be vaccinated, or if they need time off because of the effects of the vaccine.
There will also be mandatory vaccinations and testing for all workers in the quarantine system including transport drivers.
A limo driver transporting international flight crew tested positive in Sydney which is believed to have sparked the city’s current outbreak.
The Prime Minister is urging anyone who is keen to have the Astra Zeneca jab, no matter what their age, to discuss it with their doctor after announcing GPs would be covered by an indemnity scheme.
Australians under 40 have not been part of the vaccine rollout so far but the Prime Minister says they are now able to ask for the Astra Zeneca jab.
“This relates to encouraging Australians to go and chat to their GP about the vaccination and to have their vaccination administered.
“The ATAGI advice talks about a preference for AstraZeneca to be made available to those as preferred for those over 60.
“The advice does not preclude a person under 60 from getting the AstraZeneca vaccine, and so if you wish to get the AstraZeneca vaccine, we would encourage you to go and have a discussion with your GP.”
State and territory leaders have also agreed to mandatory post-quarantine testing of all returned travellers and their close contacts within two to three days of them leaving quarantine.
“If you’ve left hotel quarantine or quarantine at Howard Springs, two to three days after leaving that quarantine facility – get a test.”
Low-risk travellers, such as domestic travellers in quarantine will now be separated from high-risk international travellers staying in the same quarantine facility.
Travelers who have completed 14 days in quarantine in one state or territory will be spared from going through quarantine again in another if travelling to another state, providing they return a negative test.
State leaders have been pushing for increased supplies of COVID vaccines but the Prime Minister insists all available stock is being delivered.
“We will be seeking to get earlier supplies whenever possible and are doing so even as we speak. Of course, we would do that.
“We have additional supplies available of the AstraZeneca vaccine. All the available Pfizer vaccines are being distributed to all the states and territories.”