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Australians warned workplace Covid-19 plan faces logistical hurdles

The federal government is considering allowing Covid vaccinations in the workplace, but Australians have been warned the plan still has some way to go.

Administering Covid-19 vaccines in the workplace won’t be as simple as “running through a place and just giving shots”, Australians have been warned.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg will meet with 30 business leaders on Wednesday to discuss the jab being administered in the private sector in a bid to accelerate Australia’s vaccine rollout.

Covid-19 Taskforce Commander Lieutenant-General John Frewen on Tuesday flagged the prospect of GPs and qualified nurses administering the vaccine at workplaces.

After storage requirements for the Pfizer jab were loosened and with increased mRNA vaccine supplies incoming, Australian Medical Association (AMA) Vice President Chris Moy said the model was feasible for the first time.

Regular flu vaccines were already administered at many workplaces, but Dr Moy warned replicating the model for Covid-19 immunisations would not be as straightforward.

“It’s not like running through a place and just giving shots; there are going to be added layers of technical and administrative burden,” he told NCA NewsWire.

mRNA vaccines like Pfizer and Moderna carried a minute risk of anaphylactic reactions, meaning anyone administering them would need adrenaline shots on hand.

Consent and recording requirements would need to be stringent, Dr Moy said.

Vaccination would also have to be accurately matched to each individual so that it could be recorded on the Australian Immunisation Register.

That would form proof of vaccination via a certificate or passport.

Dr Moy welcomed Wednesday’s talks, but said the model should not be implemented without medical input.

He said GPs had carefully guided their patients and an anxious public through the critical early phases of the rollout, putting Australia roughly 4m doses ahead of where it could have been as it faced the highly infectious Delta strain.

“GPs have busted a gut to get us this far; we’d have been naked without them,” he said.

Ahead of the meeting, Mr Frydenberg said everybody had “a role to play” in the vaccine rollout, and the government and private sector were “engaged in the single, same task”.

“It is a Team Australia moment. It is about every aspect of the community working together, whether it’s households or whether it’s businesses, whether it’s the not-for-profit sector, or our amazing frontline health workers,” he told Today on Wednesday.

The CEOs of Coles, Qantas, Virgin and Wesfarmers will attend the virtual meeting on Wednesday morning, with business pressuring the federal government to speed up the rollout in a bid to avoid crippling lockdowns.

Lieutenant Frewen conceded vaccine supply remained the biggest impediment to workplace vaccinations, while anxiety over the AstraZeneca vaccine was heightened.

But Mr Frydenberg insisted dose numbers would double to 600,000 per week by the end of the month, and will jump to 2m weekly Pfizer doses by October.

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