Australians will need to receive a Covid vaccine booster jab within six months of their previous dose to be considered “up to date” under a significant vaccination status overhaul.
Aussies will need to have a Covid booster shot within six months of their primary dose to be considered “up to date” under an overhaul to people’s vaccination status.
National cabinet received the third dose advice from Australia’s expert immunisation panel on Thursday, paving the way for Daniel Andrews to explain whether the third jab will be mandated for pubs, restaurants and major events.
But it came as the Premier backed down on his February 12 booster deadline for workers in key sectors, giving them a one-month reprieve in a bid to avoid drastic supply chain shortages.
The Herald Sun has been told “serious concerns” were expressed “across the board” that not enough key workers were triple vaccinated, forcing authorities to address the prospect of mass staff gaps.
Workers in healthcare, aged care, disability, emergency services, correctional facility, quarantine accommodation and food distribution sectors – who were eligible to receive an additional jab by January 12, are now required to get their third dose by March 12.
Hospital chiefs have raised serious concerns about the suitability of the booster shot mandates with the Department of Health in recent weeks as they faced the prospect of losing hundreds, or even thousands of staff from their rosters.
It’s understood some hospital CEO’s requested a delay or even a scrapping of the mandate during a meeting with department management on February 1.
Despite several major hospitals each having more than 1500 staff members without records for having a booster shot, it is understood department secretary Euan Wallace made it clear during the meeting that no delay to the mandate would be considered.
Hospital sources told the Herald Sun they feared losing hundreds of staff from their already crippled rosters from February 12 through a combination of those returning from leave who had not vaccinated, a high number recovering from Covid who were delaying boosters, and others who had received jabs at GPs whose records did not filter into their employment records.
Hospital board chairs met with Health Minister Martin Foley on Wednesday night where they were told of wider concerns over the booster mandate, including concerns the abattoir sector was going to be the worst hit and a meat shortage loomed if a delay was not introduced.
But on Thursday some Melbourne hospitals were finalising official notifications to some staff informing them there was no record of them having received a third vaccine and that they would not be able to work from Monday when they received an 11th hour reprieve.
Australian Industry Group Victorian head Tim Piper said there are also “plenty of other industries”, including meatworks, that had pleaded for more time to get workers boosted.
Mr Piper said without urgent intervention, Victoria’s “vital supply chain” was at serious risk.
“There’s been consistent concern as to whether they’re able to achieve the timeline. This is the type of pragmatic decision that we prefer government to be making. We are so pleased they are looking to the implications of their decision making,” Mr Piper said.
“We don’t want to see empty supermarket shelves, we want to see waste picked up every day and we want to make sure our water, gas and electricity is maintained. To do that, we need to make sure that staffing levels are adequate.”
The Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation has recommended people aged 16 and over have a booster shot three months after their last primary dose.
However, a person would be considered “overdue” if they did not get a booster within six months of completing the primary schedule.
Experts say the new vaccination status should come into effect by the end of March.
Leaders will now have to determine how it will affect any domestic mandates.
Australia’s chief medical officer, Paul Kelly, had foreshadowed that officials were transitioning from the term “fully vaccinated” to “up to date”.
Originally published as Fully vaccinated status set to change under major overhaul in Australia