Private health care worker vaccinations

11 Nov 2021

AMA Queensland Vice President Dr Bav Manoharan


Transcript: AMA Queensland Vice President, Dr Bav Manoharan, ABC, News Breakfast with Michael Rowland and Lisa Millar, Thursday, 11 November 2021

Subject: Mandatory vaccinations for all health care workers

LISA MILLAR:   In Queensland, health care workers will need to be fully vaccinated by the state’s December 17th reopening date under a new mandate announced by the State Government yesterday.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:   Now the mandate also restricts unvaccinated people from visiting health facilities. Dr Bav Manoharan is the Vice President of the Queensland AMA and clinical director of the state's COVID Vaccination Task Force. He joins us now. Bav, a very good morning to you. So, take us through what this means for the health industry in Queensland.

BAV MANOHARAN:   Good morning, Michael. It absolutely means that, as of the middle of December, when the borders open up, there's really no excuse for any health care worker, and that's not just in private hospitals or in the public sector, but also GP practices and pharmacies, to not be vaccinated. We're sitting very close to the 80 per cent single dose vaccinated and, come December, we'll be around that in a second double dose vaccinated. But that still leaves one in one in five people who haven't been able to get the vaccine, either because they can't for a medical reason, or they haven't had an opportunity to. So we still need to protect them. We still need to make sure that health care workers are looking after them if they access the hospital sector, aren’t giving them the virus inadvertently. So I think the mandate's a great idea. AMA Queensland has absolutely been pushing for this for months. And it's really good to see that the Government's made that announcement.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:    And obviously, you're very closely connected to the scene, Bav. Are there any indications of, I guess, pushback or hesitancy in the health sector in Queensland about vaccinations?

BAV MANOHARAN:   We did see a little bit of pushback from some individuals with the public mandate that came out a little while ago. Look, there's a lot of reasons why people are putting off having that vaccine. There's a little bit of uncertainty, I think some people are just worried about their own health circumstances. But the plea is for those people to really just reach out to their own health professionals, to their own GPs and their own specialists, and have that conversation about their own health circumstances.

What we're trying to do here is really to protect all Queenslanders and, as health care workers, we're already subject to a number of other vaccination requirements for blood borne viruses, hepatitis B, tetanus, and this is really no different. So it's a very sound and fair call to make and I think one that's broadly supported by all health care workers. We surveyed our members earlier in August and 97 per cent were happy with mandatory vaccination laws. So I think it's very well supported. We just now have to make sure that everyone gets there and make sure everyone gets supported in getting there as well.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:     Very good points. And I know there's criticism in some quarters about, you know, creating a two tier society with these mandates, but you can't mess around with having unvaccinated people visiting health facilities, can you?

BAV MANOHARAN:    Absolutely. Look, there's a lot of people with immunocompromised states in hospitals, they're acutely unwell, that's why they're there. So, if you aren't vaccinated and you need health care, you can absolutely go to the hospital or to your GP and get that health care. But if you're there to visit someone else, I think you really have to make sure that you are vaccinated, firstly, but if you're not vaccinated, that you're not increasing the risk to everyone else in that environment as well.

And I think one of the issues that we'll see in Queensland is, because we've done quite well with this pandemic and making sure we've had limited lockdowns and essentially kept the virus out reasonably well thanks to our public health response, come the middle of December when some of those restrictions change, people who can do things now - go to the pub etc - who haven't been vaccinated will find that they can't do those after the middle of December. So that's going to be a bit of a change. And we're really hoping that some of those restrictions that are going to be imposed encourage everyone to go and and get vaccinated before then.

MICHAEL ROWLAND:     Dr Bav Manoharan, thank you so much for joining us this morning.


Published: 11 Nov 2021