Australian businesses are putting up their hands to provide public vaccinations sites to their local communities as the rollout is expected to ramp up in September.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Lieutenant-General John Frewen met with business leaders to discuss how industries could get involved in the national vaccine rollout effort.
“Commonwealth GPs and hubs, and state and territory clinics will remain the backbone of the plan,” Frewen told reporters today. “But I think … it will be really important for people to have a more diverse range of ways to access the vaccine.”
Tens of millions of Pfizer and yet-to-be approved Moderna vaccines are scheduled to arrive in September. But there are concerns about the lack of vaccine workers required for an accelerated rollout.
Prior to today’s meeting, Woolworths had already offered to set up public vaccine pop-up hubs for the government.
“As Australia’s largest private employer, we’ve rolled out flu vaccinations to our workforce over many years with specialist health providers,” Woolworths Group head of COVID response Ross Spencer said in a statement.
“We’d welcome the opportunity to do the same with the COVID vaccine, particularly for our frontline teams providing an essential service to Australian communities.”
Frydenberg said Wesfarmers had also brought up the opportunity to set up vaccination grounds in Bunnings and Officeworks.
“It was agreed by all members present that businesses will write to all their workers about the importance of being vaccinated,” Frydenberg said, adding that some also agreed to reach out to their customer base.
However, Australian Industry Group CEO Innes Willox said the government would need to provide these companies with the same indemnity protections that those in the medical industry currently have.
“Workers’ compensation does not provide appropriate or affordable protections for businesses against adverse vaccine reactions,” Willox said. “Businesses need the same indemnities that the Government gives to itself, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies.”
The Treasurer also revealed there were extensive discussions on businesses to give incentives to customers who get the jab, such as airlines providing free frequent flyer points and other benefits.
“A number of businesses raised very interesting and exciting ideas about how they can put their resources to work,” Frydenberg said.