The federal government has given Australian employers permission to vaccinate their own staff against COVID-19, accelerating the rollout towards established vaccination targets.
The Australian Financial Review reports the nation’s vaccine rollout tsar, Lieutenant-General John Frewen, confirmed the news to business leaders on Monday.
Under the plan, private enterprises will be permitted to hire medical contractors to provide the COVID-19 jab to workers, much like they can already immunise their staff against the flu.
The federal government will underwrite the scheme, meaning neither employees nor employers will be left out of pocket for the doses administered.
The paper reports businesses will likely start their in-house vaccination programs from October, to give time for medical contractors to seek government accreditation.
The scheme will also take advantage of the millions of Pfizer and Moderna vaccine doses expected to reach Australian shores in the coming weeks, with the nation’s bounty of homemade AstraZeneca doses available upon request.
Health Minister Greg Hunt said the scheme has the “potential to reach Australians at places they already go to every day”.
“Millions of Australians have already heeded the call to get vaccinated to protect themselves, their loved ones and the community,” he added, “and the opening of this tender process will add further momentum as we continue to ramp up our vaccination effort.”
In addition, the plan will also “facilitate acceleration of a range of other vaccine delivery methods, including additional support to vaccinate Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other priority groups,” Hunt said.
News of the workplace vaccination sign-off has been some time coming.
Frewen flagged the possibility in June, after the nation’s banking and resources sector first announced they would be prepared to run their own vaccination schemes.
“We’re working on a way to offer vaccines to our colleagues, in our workplaces,” NAB CEO Ross McEwan wrote in The Australian Financial Review last month.
“That’s how we’ll play our part in helping Australia get vaccinated.”
The scheme will build on existing workplace priority lists, which granted supermarket workers in Sydney’s south-west accelerated access to Pfizer jabs through pop-up clinics and the city’s mass vaccination hubs.
The workplace vaccination system may also work in tandem with vaccination mandates, which businesses are allowed to pursue at their own discretion.
Businesses and the government alike will hope the new allowance will drive vaccination rates towards the subsequent 70 per cent and 80 per cent targets tied to Australia’s reopening scheme.
As on Sunday, 42.6 per cent of the population over 16 years old had received two doses of the vaccine. 67.8 per cent have received at least one dose.
This article was originally published on Business Insider Australia.