8 August 2021

Barr to recruit bosses to accelerate COVID vaccination rollout

| Ian Bushnell
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Nurse preparing COVID-19 Pfizer vaccine

The only way out. A nurse prepares a Pfizer vaccine shot at the Garran Surge Centre. Photo: Michelle Kroll.

ACT business leaders today (9 August) will be urged to support their workers to get vaccinated against COVID-19 when Chief Minister Andrew Barr makes his annual State of the Territory address.

As the government ramps up its vaccination program to establish a new mass hub and broaden eligibility, Mr Barr will tell them that getting the jab is the only way out of the pandemic.

He will say that the race is on to vaccinate as many Canberrans as possible as quickly as possible over the coming months, and that the government needs their help.

Mr Barr will call on employers to give staff paid time off to book and attend their vaccination appointment, and plan for, support and fully pay them if they need to take leave due to any side effects they experience.

He will urge employers to share the latest health advice with their teams on who can make an appointment and how.

“We all have a huge stake in this. Our city’s economic recovery is dependent on a successful vaccine rollout,” he will say.

“Every Canberran that rolls up their sleeve is another small step closer to normality.”

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Mr Barr will say that the ACT has a fair chance of surpassing the National Cabinet target of a 70 per cent vaccination rate by the end of the year to begin opening up the country, reaching 80 per cent in the same timeframe.

“Based on projected vaccine supply, we hope every ACT adult has the opportunity to get at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before the end of this year,” he will say.

Mr Barr will tell business leaders that vaccination is the only way to end the lockdowns and the travel restrictions that have impacted the nation for over 18 months.

“We must, and we are, treating the vaccination rollout as a race. And it’s a race that the ACT has to win,” he will say.

“Until this race is over, snap lockdowns and border closures across the country will be a part of our lives.

“I know lockdowns hurt. They hurt local businesses and they hurt families.

“But the alternative hurts much more. We don’t have to look far to see how deadly the Delta variant of the virus is.

“And that’s why our vaccination rate is so important. Vaccines significantly reduce the risk of ending up in ICU.”

Last week the government made the Pfizer vaccine available to the Canberrans aged 30-39, and 22,000 booked a jab on the first day.

From today, children aged between 12 and 15 years who are at greater risk from the effects of COVID-19 will also be eligible to book a Pfizer vaccination.

Those 12 and over with a specified underlying medical condition, who have a disability or are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander will be eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination.

Appointments may be made at an ACT Government clinic or participating general practitioner.

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This follows the TGA recently registering the Pfizer vaccine for children aged 12 to 15 and is consistent with the national rollout.

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said specified medical conditions include severe asthma, diabetes, obesity, cardiac and circulatory congenital anomalies, neurodevelopmental disorders, epilepsy, immuno-compromised, trisomy 21 and significant disability, including everybody aged 12 and over who is an NDIS participant.

Children and young people aged 12 to 15 with a disability may wish to have an appointment at the ACT Government’s access and sensory clinic.

The current health advice limits those under 60 to the Pfizer vaccine due to a rare risk of blood clotting from the more plentiful Astra Zeneca. However, it is still considered safe, and people can decide to receive it after talking with their doctor or immunisation clinic.

To book a vaccine, visit COVID-19 Vaccine.

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