170 Health Workers Stood Down in Australian State for Failing to Meet Vaccine Mandate

99 percent of health workforce vaccinated
By Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
Daniel Y. Teng
October 31, 2021 Updated: October 31, 2021

The Australian state of Tasmania has announced that 99 percent of its healthcare workforce has complied with a COVID-19 vaccination mandate, leaving 170 to be stood aside, according to Jeremy Rockliff, the minister for health.

The state government’s mandate meant health employees had to receive one dose of the vaccine by Oct. 31 unless they had a medical exemption.

According to Rockliff, 15,970 employees received the vaccination or displayed the appropriate exemption.

“I would like to thank each and every one of these people for making sure they have done what they can to help keep Tasmanians—including some of the most vulnerable—as safe as they can be against COVID-19,” he said in a press release on Oct. 31.

“It is extremely important that in our health settings, we do all we can to prevent COVID-19 from spreading. A vaccinated health workforce is a key part of that,” he added.

“For the small number of employees who have either not been vaccinated or have not informed the Department of Health of their vaccination evidence, they are no longer able to work for the Department and will not be paid.”

The health department said of the 170 employees, 88 were permanent, and 82 were fixed-term or casual employees.

No permanent doctors were stood down. However, there were 38 permanent nurses, seven allied health professionals, and four paramedics affected by the mandate.

Kathrine Morgan-Wicks, Tasmania’s health secretary, did not expect disruptions to health services due to the stand-downs but warned that some workers could be terminated.

“I anticipate very little change to our business as usual and our service delivery from today. And we have our rosters confirmed right across … from today, into the early days of the next week,” she told reporters, as noted by ABC.

“We’re confident that we have all of our areas covered, and we’ll work with that small group in terms of recruitment to replace those positions.”

The announcement comes just days after the Tasmanian Supreme Court refused to hand down an injunction against the state’s health mandate.

The legal action, which was filed on behalf of around 500 health workers, to pause the vaccine mandate.

Chief Justice Alan Blow said he had to consider the “likelihood of success” of such an action and was not convinced it had enough merit.

“In my view, the applicant’s arguments are all remarkably weak,” he said in his judgement.