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Thursday, December 7, 2023

‘Healthcare doesn’t just happen in hospitals’; PSA calls for NSW mandatory jab for all health staff

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While the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) supports the NSW Government’s decision to mandate the COVID-19 vaccine for all the state’s hospital workers, it contends the requirements do not go far enough.

On Thursday, August 26, the Berejiklian Government made COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for all NSW health workers in hospitals, aged care and ambulances – with first doses being required as of September 30 and second doses by November 30.

In applauding the decision, PSA NSW Branch President, Chelsea Felkai, urged the NSW Government to go much further.

“I commend the Berejiklian Government’s decision to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for NSW health workers in hospitals,” Felkai said.

“This is an important move, and NSW has led the nation on this. But I cannot understand why the public health order does not apply to health workers in primary care – such as community pharmacists and general practitioners.

“Frontline health care doesn’t just happen in hospitals – it happens in community pharmacies and medical centres.

Felkai said they are an equally high risk of transmission, as evidenced by their frequent appearances on exposure site lists.

“All health care workers and the community should be able to have confidence that everyone working to support health has heeded the health advice,” she said.

“That is, being vaccinated to protect themselves, their colleagues, and their patients.”

PSA National President, Associate Professor Chris Freeman, agreed, and called on all other jurisdictions to get moving.

“The actions taken by the NSW Government are a step in the right direction, protecting health care workers and mitigating the risk of further transmission in high-risk primary care settings,” Freeman said.

“It is appropriate that requirements for vaccination are consistent across all high-risk settings, such as health care – rather than being left as a decision for individual businesses and service providers.

Freeman said PSA asserts that the requirements must apply in all patient-facing settings, where pharmacists and other health care workers practice – including hospitals, community pharmacies, aged care, general practice and ACCHOs.

“Of course, we recognise there are a very small number of people who have genuine medical contraindication to vaccination,” he said.

“We must continue to support these people in our workforce and work with them on the safest role they can play, whilst maximising those immunised around them.”

PSA has called on all state and territory governments to mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for all health workers.

For more information on vaccination requirements for NSW health workers, please click here.

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