Mandatory Vaccination for WA Health Workers

Friday 10 Sep 2021

Update 10 September 2021

Since the announcement of the Health Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions last week, becoming law on 1 September 2021, HSUWA has attended several meetings with public health employers, other unions and the Chief Health Officer to discuss their scope, application and implementation across the WA health system. These meetings will continue regularly over the coming weeks. The first supporting document released by the Department of Health is the FAQ.

In the private sector, HSUWA is writing to Private Hospital, Pathology and Imaging employers, asking what measures the employer is taking to support employees in response to the Directions.

We understand the next key documents for our members working in public health will be a general ‘Policy’, under which complying with the Directions form a condition of employment, as well as implementation ‘Guideline’s, which will include the process than gets underway when an employee does not meet the relevant deadline to be vaccinated to attend the workplace. We also expect there will be further information in a new subsidiary document to the Directions focused on providing more detail about ‘Exemptions’. These documents are not expected to be finalised by the Department of Health for another week.

In summary HSUWA is advocating for access, education, incentives and certainty of protections (from adverse reactions) ahead of the deadline and for flexibility and fairness for those employees navigating medical or temporary exemptions or who are not exempted and still unvaccinated after the deadline. We are also firmly focused on ensuring staff staffing levels and safe workplaces for our members.

Thank you to the many members who have called or emailed in with questions. We have taken many of those questions or concerns directly to our meetings, seeking clarity. There is no doubt that the scale and speed of the undertaking is unprecedented and the implementation of the Directions will be challenging for the whole sector. We are seeking to use our influence to ensure a clear, fair and reasonable process, for each of the different stages, including the disciplinary stage for those who reach it. We are also seeking confirmation whether workers’ compensation or the new Commonwealth  Covid-19 Vaccine Claims Scheme will best protect workers who have an adverse reaction to their vaccine.

More updates to come!

 

Update 2 September 2021

 

WA Health Minister Roger Cook announced vaccination for COVID-19 will be mandatory for WA Health workers, commencing 1 October 2021.

 

The Health Services Union of WA (HSUWA) will attend a meeting this afternoon with the State Government to discuss the recently issued Health Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions by the Chief Health Officer.

 

HSUWA will be seeking to clarify a range of initial questions arising from the announcement including additional support for vaccine access and recovery, ensuring safe staffing levels, exemptions and logistical challenges which may arise with restricted access to workplaces.

 

The Directions set out a four-stage process, so that by 1 January 2022, all health care workers and health support workers across WA public and private hospitals and health services are fully vaccinated.

 

The staged approach is based on health workers in the highest risk areas needing to be vaccinated first.

 

Naomi McCrae, Secretary of the HSUWA said, “We will seeking further clarification from the State Government to ensure we can best navigate the implementation of the Directions and support our members who are yet to be vaccinated, noting that most are already fully vaccinated.

 

“Vaccination will ultimately protect vital health care workers within Western Australia’s health system, and the wider community.

 

“There is now significant medical evidence to support the efficacy of the vaccine, to protect us from future outbreaks and to protect our health system and our workers from being overwhelmed. The health and safety of our workers is a high priority.”

 

Click here to access the Health Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions.

 If you are a health care or support worker who has not yet been vaccinated, visit the WA State Government Website to find out how.

 Immunisation medical exemption criteria is available from the Australian Federal Government website.

 

Vaccination and Access Requirements at a Glance.

This table is for high level reference only and does not include the details set out the directions

 

Health care facility Health care workers Health support workers
Tier 1

1 Oct 2021 – first dose

1 Nov 2021 - fully vaccinated

1 Oct 2021 – first dose

1 Nov 2021 - fully vaccinated

Tier 2

1 Nov 2021 – first dose

1 Dec 2021 - fully vaccinated

1 Dec 2021 – first dose

1 Jan 2022 - fully vaccinated

Tier 3

1 Dec 2021 – first dose

1 Jan 2022 - fully vaccinated

 

1 Dec 2021 – first dose

1 Jan 2022 - fully vaccinated

 

 

 

Definitions

 

Health care workers:

  • All those who provide health, medial, nursing, pathology, pharmaceutical, social work or allied health services at a health care facility in any capacity.
  • Assistants in nursing, orderlies, or hospital service assistants.
  • Students on placement.
  • Ambulance officers.

 Health support workers:

  • Those who provide goods or services at a health care facility paid or unpaid.

Health care facility:

Tier 1: ICU, high dependency units, respiratory wards, EDs, covid clinics (testing and vaccination).

Tier 2: all hospitals both public and private.

Tier 3: all public health service facility premises including where contracted health entities provide public health services, any premises of the Department of Health or a public Health Service Provider.

 

 

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