- New public health directions make COVID-19 vaccination for WA health care workers and health support staff compulsory
- Health care workforce will be eligible for Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination
It will soon be mandatory for Western Australian health workers to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in order to access health facilities for work purposes.
The Chief Health Officer has approved new Health Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions, which apply to health care and support workers across health care facilities. This includes public and private hospitals and public health service facilities.
Mandatory vaccination for the health workforce will be introduced in a staged approach, with workers in the highest risk settings needing to be vaccinated first.
From October 1, health care and health support workers in public and private hospitals will need to have had at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access tier one facilities, which include intensive care units, high dependency units, respiratory wards, emergency departments, COVID-19 clinics, COVID-19 vaccination clinics and hospital wards with designated respiratory beds in certain regional hospitals. These workers will need to be fully vaccinated by 1 November.
From November 1, health care and health support workers need to be fully vaccinated to enter tier one health care facilities.
Also from November 1, health care workers will need to have had at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access tier two facilities, which include all public and private hospitals. These workers will need to be fully vaccinated by December 1.
From December 1, all other health support workers will need to have had at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access tier two facilities, which include all public and private hospitals. They will need to be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022.
Also from December 1, health care workers and health support workers will need to have had at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine to access tier three facilities, which include all public health service facilities including support services, Department of Health and health service provider sites. These workers will need to be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022.
'Health care workers' include those who provide heath, medical, nursing, pathology, pharmaceutical, social work or allied health services to a patient at a health care facility in any capacity; students on placement; and ambulance officers.
'Health support workers' include those who provide goods or services at a health care facility.
This applies to paid and voluntary workers, including agency staff working onsite; administrative staff; ancillary staff including cleaners, laundry staff, gardeners, food preparation services, security officers and maintenance services; providers of lifestyle and social care, eg music or art therapy and people providing commercial activities at health care facilities.
The Health Worker (Restrictions on Access) Directions provide exemptions for certain categories of employees, which include medical exemptions and other temporary exemptions. Immunisation medical exemption criteria is available from the Australian Government website.
Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:
"Despite our continued best efforts to keep the virus out, we cannot be complacent - there is the real possibility that an employee at a health care facility will come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.
"Given the integrated nature of the WA Health system, this means there are risks for all WA Health system employees, even if they are not on the frontline.
"That is why it is vital that we ensure our entire health care workforce is vaccinated against COVID-19 - this will benefit patients, the workers and the broader community.
"It will also provide better protection for our health care workforce in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak.
"At those times, as ever, we need our health staff to be healthy and ready to do their vital jobs.
"The new directions will mean it is a legal requirement for the health care workforce to be vaccinated against COVID-19, in order to attend their place of work.
"It is an offence to fail to comply with the directions, punishable by a fine of up to $20,000.
"While sanctions are built into the directions, I am sure the overwhelming majority of the health workforce will want to do the right thing and ensure they are vaccinated."
Minister's office - 6552 6500