Health Minister Yvette D’Ath revealed that around ten percent of the 100,000-strong public healthcare workforce had yet to be vaccinated. The deadline for complete vaccination was Oct. 31.
“There are 7,000 health workers who have not come forward saying they are vaccinated, but 3,000 of those are on leave,” she told reporters on Nov. 1. “There are 4,000 who have not been vaccinated and will be given their show-cause and will be suspended with full pay,” she added.
“There will be some disruptions, but we are managing those disruptions,” she said. “We will put in place measures to manage any workforce shortages that might occur.”
A Queensland Health spokesperson said contingencies were in place to deal with the shortfall of medical staff.
“This directive was announced two months ago, allowing the health services time to plan accordingly. While we are disappointed there are staff choosing to be unvaccinated, a number of our health services have no impact, but as expected, there is some disruption at others that is being worked through,” the spokesperson said.
“We have received more than 2,500 exemption requests. The team is working incredibly hard to process exemption requests as quickly as possible,” he added.
Two major medical unions in the state, the Australian Medical Association Queensland (AMAQ) and Australian Salaried Medical Officers’ Federation Queensland (ASMOFQ), backed the ban on unvaccinated employees.
“We know the number of cases in Queensland will increase as people begin to move around the country more freely, and we’ve witnessed Delta outbreaks in hospitals elsewhere this year,” Professor Chris Perry, AMAQ president, said in a press release.
“We would like to see the public health order extended to cover all health care employees, including those in private practice, which continues to be a grey area that leaves workers, employers, and patients exposed.”
Perry said widespread support for mandatory vaccination policies claimed that 97 percent of an online survey of AMAQ and ASMOFQ members were either partially or fully vaccinated, and almost 90 percent planned to get the vaccine.
“In addition, 90 percent of respondents were in support of mandatory vaccination for all healthcare workers and almost 80 percent were concerned about working alongside unvaccinated workers,” he said.
ASMOFQ President Dr. Hau Tan said the vaccine mandate would ensure hospitals continued functioning and were essential for staff and patient safety.
“The impact on hospital rosters and service delivery when staff become ill or have to isolate is significant, and we cannot afford to put more pressure on the hospital system,” Tan said in a press release.
“We saw that a few months ago when about 400 doctors and other health care workers and their families were forced to quarantine in Southeast Queensland during an outbreak,” he added.
“We understand that current public hospital staff who cannot be vaccinated for health reasons are likely to be redeployed to other roles within Queensland Health.”
Campbell Newman, former premier of Queensland and now-Senate candidate, said medical professionals losing their lobs for exercising “their democratic right” is “completely outrageous.”
He told The Epoch Times that the “coercion” of health workers to get the vaccine clashed with the medical principle of informed consent.
“The people who are in the (health system), if they want to protect themselves, they should exercise their free choice and get a vaccine, rather than compel others to get vaccinated this way,” he said.
“It’s a bit like turning around to someone lying next to you on the beach and saying, ‘Hey, I insist that you put sunscreen on to protect me against skin cancer,’” he added.
“The idea of 4,000 people suddenly not being available in the system is going to cause huge problems, and those that will suffer will be patients, which is just ludicrous.”