COVID vaccine mandate for disabled people in Canberra two weeks delayed | Canberra Times

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A COVID-19 vaccine mandate for home and community disability helpers and carers has been delayed after employers raised concerns that there was not enough time to ensure their staff complied with the rules. The public health guidelines, which require staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19, will be signed on Monday, after what the ACT government said was a significant consultation with the sector. Workers and volunteers must receive their first dose of a vaccine before 15 November and their second dose before 13 December according to the staggered requirements. Workers in these sectors were initially told that they would be required to have received their first vaccine dose by 1 November and be fully vaccinated on 29 November. Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said stakeholder feedback showed that the initial dates did not provide enough time for employers to ensure they met their obligations under the mandate. “Throughout the consultation process, there was strong support for the direction of public health from providers of disability services and the home care community and the local community. However, there was some further work to be done to ensure that the definitions were clear and appropriate for ACT,” said Ms Stephen-Smith in a statement Monday. MORE COVID-19 NEWS: While the original scope and definitions were based on advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, stakeholders felt that ACT’s public health direction should be more in line with the approach in NSW. That is why we have a consultation process, and I am convinced that the direction to be signed today will meet the needs of the sectors concerned while protecting society. While the ACT had sought to avoid the use of vaccine mandates through much of the COVID-19 pandemic, Stephen-Smith pointed to Commonwealth data, which showed lower vaccination rates for disabled staff when the mandate was first announced. Figures from the federal government last month showed that 87 percent of NDIS-screened workers had received at least one vaccine dose. The fully vaccinated proportion among these workers was 79.4 percent, which was below the general ACT population. Meanwhile, ACT’s booster-shot program is open to people over the age of 18 who received their second COVID-19 vaccination dose more than six months ago, with appointments available at state-run clinics, general practice surgeries and pharmacies. Prime Minister Andrew Barr said Canberrans had shown tremendous enthusiasm for being vaccinated and that the government expected this to continue in the booster program. On the advice of [Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation] “that people can get their booster dose six months after their second dose, we are pleased to be able to offer boosters to eligible individuals at the ACT Government’s COVID-19 vaccination clinics,” said Mr Barr. Here’s how you can continue to access our trusted content:

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