Kymberly Martin

Union calling the shots on Covid vaccinations

The Australian Services Union has called for urgent measures to help disability support workers get Covid jabs after a union survey revealed only one in five is currently vaccinated.

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Australian Services Union NSW & ACT secretary, Natalie Lang, has written to NDIS Minister Linda Reynolds to make the Pfizer vaccine available to all disability support workers in as many locations as possible.

Lang said workers who indicated hesitation on getting vaccinated were mainly concerned about potential side effects of the Astra Zeneca vaccine. And, she said the union does not support mandatory vaccination measures for disability sector workers.

However, the Minister is strongly encouraging all disability workers to be vaccinated as soon as possible, both to protect themselves and the people they care for.

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“National Cabinet has agreed to the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee’s (AHPCC) advice encouraging residential disability support workers to have their Covid-19 vaccination as soon as possible. Next month, National Cabinet will consider mandating vaccination for disability workers,” the minister told F2L.

“The number of disability workers getting a Covid vaccination continues to increase, and as at, July 19, 2021, around half of NDIS disability workers had received their first dose and more than 34 per cent have been fully vaccinated,” she said.

The government, along with state and territories, has established more than 4,600 primary health care sites and over 600 state and territory government operated vaccination clinics. Disability workers can also be vaccinated through the Commonwealth in-reach program at the same time the people with disability living in residential disability accommodation receive their vaccination.

The minister reaffirmed that the AHPPC will consider making it mandatory for disability support workers who support NDIS participants in high-risk disability residential settings, to have had at least their first dose of Covid vaccine by October 31. 2021.

“Irrespective of their vaccination status, disability workers are required to follow public health orders and are bound by workplace health and safety laws in the relevant state or territory. In the context of Covid-19, this extends to protecting their own health and that of the people they support, through appropriate use of Personal Protective Equipment, good hygiene and physical distancing.”

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