COVID-19 vaccinations could begin in Australian workplaces in the next two months as businesses offer to pitch in to help speed up the country’s rollout.
Business groups met with treasurer Josh Frydenberg and head of the vaccine rollout, Lt General John Frewen, on Wednesday to discuss plans for employers to follow a model similar to workplace flu vaccinations. Business Council Australia boss Jennifer Westacott had previously said employers were in a good position to help speed up the rollout and could begin preparations now to ensure a smooth delivery once supply of the Pfizer vaccine is increased.
Representatives from industry groups and some of Australia’s biggest employers like Telstra, Optus and Qantas, as well as supermarkets and the big four banks were present for the virtual meeting. As well as workplace initiatives, the group discussed how to communicate consistent messaging across the country’s workforces to encourage a greater rate of take-up.
General Frewen said workplace rollouts could begin in September around the same the vaccination will be offered to the younger population. But as always, the timeline hinges heavily on increasing supply to states and territories.
“Certainly from around September or October when we have greater access to the vaccines, I think that might be when workplace vaccination could be opened up,” he said.
Supermarket chain Woolies has even offered to host public vaccine pop-ups in its regional distribution sites and shopping centres. Similarly, Bunnings has said its open to discussing how it could help facilitate jabs. During the early days of the pandemic, Bunnings car parks were utilised as drive-through testing clinics.
Australia’s slow vaccination rollout has been blamed for the current Delta variant outbreak raging across Sydney which began with an unvaccinated limo driver transporting international flight crew. Australia has fallen to the bottom of OECD countries in its vaccine rollout, due in part to limited supplies of the Pfizer vaccine and increased fear surrounding the AstraZeneca jab for under 60s. So far, just over 8.4 million jabs have been administered and 7.4% of the population is fully vaccinated.
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