A major change to the definition of fully vaccinated is ‘inevitable’, industry group says

Courtney GouldNCA NewsWire
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Camera IconNot Supplied Credit: News Corp Australia

A compulsory third jab for workers is now considered all but “inevitable” but one industry group has raised the alarm on the major impact it will have on already disrupted businesses.

Ahead of national cabinet on Thursday, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews gave his strongest indication yet that a vaccinated economy would continue for some.

But advice from the expert immunisation panel about the expansion of the definition of fully vaccinated to include a third jab has not yet been finalised.

Government sources suggest the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation will hand their advice to leaders soon, but could not provide a timeline on when that would occur.

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Camera IconBusiness is asking for clarity on what a mandated third dose will mean for workers. Brendan Radke Credit: News Corp Australia

The chief executive of the nation’s biggest employer group has acknowledged the change is unavoidable but raised concerns about what it will mean for businesses.

“It's almost inevitable this is going to happen and businesses have been asking for weeks about what the rules will be, when will they change and how will they change,” Innes Willox told the Today show on Friday.

“There was enormous upheaval for many businesses when it was mandated that people have two shots.

“In some jurisdictions that led to a lot of people leaving, or a lot of disruption while people made up their choices.

“So business is likely to have to go through this again.”

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Camera IconDespite a push from Dan Andrews, advice from ATAGI was not finalised before Thursday’s national cabinet. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

Earlier this month, chief medical officer Paul Kelly acknowledged implementation issues were just one of ATAGI’s considerations.

“There's a number of implementation issues that would need to be considered but … the third dose is clearly an important thing,” Professor Paul Kelly told reporters.

“If you have Omicron or Omicron is present, we know that does increase the protection against severe disease and against transmission and against infection.”

More than seven million Australians over the age of 18 years old have received a third shot of the vaccine.

Health Minister Greg Hunt said he wanted everyone to get their booster shot but stopped short of confirming a third jab would be mandated.

“We want people to have their boosters,” he told Sky News.

“The health advice is they can protect you. They can keep you safe. They can reduce your risk of contracting Omicron or, in particular, reduce your risk of serious illness and hospitalisation.

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Camera IconBusiness is asking for clarity on what a mandated third dose will mean for workers. Brendan Radke Credit: News Corp Australia

But he also conceded Australians could be faced with a scenario where an annual Covid booster shot would be required, much like the flu.

Mr Willox said the government needed to be clear about who the new definition would apply to, and spell out why the change was necessary.

“(The mandate) can’t be done immediately because a lot of people have just qualified for their second shot or just had it and you have a three-month gap,” he said.

“So you would expect this would have to be phased in and who will it apply to? Will it just be health care workers? Childcare workers? Paramedics? Or is it going to be right across the economy again?

“These are big questions and we've had a lot of uncertainty and a lot of disruption as we’ve gone through this and what business is facing now is another wave of disruption and uncertainty.

“We’d like it cleared up as quickly as possible so businesses can prepare.”

Originally published as A major change to the definition of fully vaccinated is ‘inevitable’, industry group says

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