Victoria is expanding its program of mandating COVID-19 vaccinations among more than a million of its residents who work on site or face to face in the community. The measure was announced in a bid to control a possible surge in cases.
“This is critically important to keep the case numbers down so that we can open up on 26 October, get our freedom back, get the economy going again and deliver the national plan,” said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.
The updated guidelines now require additional segments of the workforce, covering about 1.2 million Victorians, to get their first dose of the vaccine by 15 October and complete their second dose by 26 November.
With the new mandate, anyone who works outside of their homes must be fully vaccinated. Apart from healthcare workers, the list includes retail employees, journalists, judges, police officers, lawyers, and professional sports and maintenance facility staff.
Workers’ unions have reportedly been discussing the guidelines with state health officials last week but were not informed of the latest expansion before it had been announced, The Guardian reported.
A number of unions have expressed concerns about making immunisation mandatory. The Communication Workers Union, which advocates for Australia Post workers and those in the telecommunications sector, is among the groups opposing such measures.
Prime Minister Scott, for his part, said the federal government is pushing for mandatory vaccinations only during “exceptional circumstances”.
“I know Australians know what’s good for them, I know Australians want Australia to open up. And I think the best way to encourage those vaccinations is to stick to the national plan, stick to the deal,” Morrison said.
Across Victoria, about one in every three workers required to get the vaccine have been inoculated. The guidelines earlier covered residential aged-care workers, as well as those in the education and construction sectors.