An infectious disease doctor has said there is no “justifiable place” for vaccination mandates in hospitals, schools and emergency services amid growing calls for NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet, to remove the remaining restrictions.
The Prime Minister came under fire on Monday from former Prime Minister Scott Morrison who said “of course” Mr Perrottet had the power to scrap vaccination mandates in the civil service.
But Mr Perrottet said he had urged departments to scrap the jab requirements, but there were some areas where the warrants were a “business for the employer not a business for me”.
The last remaining public health order covering vaccination against COVID-19 in the workplace expired in June 2022.
But SkyNews.com.au can reveal that the NSW Department of Health, NSW Department of Education and NSW Police all still have COVID-19 vaccine requirements in place for their staff.
NSW Health, which has jurisdiction over hospitals and state paramedics, said vaccination requirements had moved to an “occupational health and safety risk assessment model”.
“For COVID-19, vaccination requirements currently apply to all staff unless they have a medical contraindication,” a spokesperson said.
Professor Peter Collignon of the Australian National University said there was “no more justifiable room for mandates” given Australia’s vaccination rate was over 90% and at least 65% of the population had been infected with the virus.
While Prof Collignon stressed the need for all Australians to get the COVID-19 vaccine, he said the existing rules were ‘based on beliefs from two years ago’ that the vaccine could reduce transmission of the virus up to 80%.
“They (the vaccines) don’t work as well as I expected, we thought it would reduce transmission by about 80%, now it’s closer to 30% risk of transmission and for only four five months,” Professor Collignon told SkyNews.com.au.
“So overall vaccines at the moment I still advise them because they keep you from dying… but if the rationale is to keep you from spreading it to others then they have quite a small benefit now and it’s not worth money orders.
“The reality is that I think it’s a mistake not to be vaccinated.
“We need to review these mandates. Unfortunately, vaccines are much less effective at stopping the spread, so we need to revisit these rules and mandates as they were based on beliefs from two years ago.
NSW Police told SkyNews.com.au that all sworn officers and administrative staff cannot perform “any duties unless they have received a COVID-19 vaccine or unless they can be vaccinated”.
While the police force and the health department have extensive vaccination requirements for their employees, NSW Education only has requirements for staff working in or visiting schools for vulnerable pupils.
Professor Collignon acknowledged that restrictions on staff in vulnerable schools were the only mandates that could be defended.
But he said requiring vaccinations for teachers at other educational institutions was “not a good idea”.
Deakin University chair of epidemiology Catherine Bennett said it was “difficult to examine the effectiveness of vaccines” in the workplace.
She said high-risk health facilities should consider the effectiveness of the vaccine in terms of patient and staff well-being.
“In these high-risk environments, if you can average your staffing levels with 15% reduced risk, that’s what they assess with patient wellbeing,” Professor Bennett told SkyNews .com.au.
“If you are in environments where there are immunocompromised patients, workers are also at increased risk of exposure in the course of their work.
“If the net protection of the worker and the people they are caring for is no longer affected, that’s when they could reverse their position.”
Data from the UK suggested the vaccine reduced the risk of infection by 10-50%, but only for up to six months.
While Professor Bennett argued vaccine requirements in hospitals and emergency departments were necessary, she said the policy should be “actively reviewed”.
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. infectious disease expert calls Dominic Perrottet drop civil service COVID19 vaccination mandates PMs clash Scott Morrison