3rd Vaccine Shot Mandated for Tens of Thousands of Australian Workers

3rd Vaccine Shot Mandated for Tens of Thousands of Australian Workers
A man receives a COVID-19 vaccine at Sydney Road Family Medical Practice, in Sydney, Australia, on Jan. 10, 2022. (Jenny Evans/Getty Images)
Daniel Y. Teng

Australian state governments are tinkering with how “fully vaccinated” individuals are defined, with booster shot mandates now inching across four states.

Western Australia was the earliest jurisdiction to make the COVID-19 booster shot mandatory for its million-strong workforce in a directive issued on Dec. 22—on top of an existing vaccine mandate.

“The emergence of Omicron throughout the world and on the east coast is extremely concerning—case numbers are skyrocketing, as is the number of people in hospital,” Premier Mark McGowan told reporters.

New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia have followed suit, introducing targeted booster mandates.

Healthcare workers in South Australia will need to have a booster shot within four weeks of becoming eligible (pdf).

Currently, Pfizer and Moderna boosters have been approved for use by Australian drug regulators.

On Jan. 10, Australia’s most populous state, New South Wales, ordered all education staff to receive the booster. The announcement came soon after authorities began its vaccination rollout on children aged 5 to 11.
“As we prepare for the start of Term 1, our focus remains on keeping our staff and students safe. Adding a booster shot to the vaccination mandate will help maintain confidence that schools are a safe place to learn and work,” Georgina Harrisson, secretary of the NSW Department of Education, said in a press release.

“As with the initial vaccine mandate, we will ensure school-based staff have sufficient time to obtain their booster, and I encourage everyone to secure an appointment when their booster is due.”

Victorian authorities on the same day rolled out their booster mandate on top of an existing vaccine mandate covering healthcare, aged care, disability, emergency services, correctional services, hotel quarantine, food distribution networks, as well as abattoirs, meat, poultry, and seafood processing.

“All of these groups are already covered by existing mandates for those first two vaccinations, and this is a sensible addition for the relatively high-risk nature that these sectors operate when it comes to vaccine protection and, of course, their critical contribution to keeping Victoria operating,” Health Minister Martin Foley told reporters.

Meanwhile, the federal government has remained consistent in its stance that boosters are not mandated.

Daniel Y. Teng is based in Brisbane, Australia. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected].
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