Roger Cook urging WA healthcare workers to ‘lead by example’ and get the COVID vaccine

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Peter LawThe West Australian
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Health Minister Roger Cook.
Camera IconHealth Minister Roger Cook. Credit: Jackson Flindell/The West Australian

The thousands of healthcare workers across WA who have so far failed to get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19 — five months after the roll-out began — are being called on to “lead by example”.

Figures released by the WA Health Department show 71.1 per cent of the workforce had received their first dose, comprised of 84.6 per cent of employees in Perth and 61.3 per cent in the country.

Only 62.8 per cent of employees were fully vaccinated, including 80.4 per cent in the metropolitan area and 49.9 per cent in the regions. The regional discrepancy was blamed on the roll-out starting in the city.

The figures are based on healthcare workers eligible under phase 1A and does not include 1B cohorts. It also only includes jabs administered at State-run clinics.

“Most of our frontline healthcare workers are vaccinated, but obviously right through out our health system, over 40,000 staff, we haven't got to all those people yet,” Health Minister Roger Cook said.

“I've called on all healthcare workers to lead by example, make sure they do the right thing, get themselves vaccinated.

“We're continuing to work both with the healthcare workers themselves and with their unions to make sure that we roll that programme out.

“We prioritise healthcare workers in terms of our State vaccination clinics to make sure that they have every opportunity to get themselves vaccinated to protect themselves and to protect their families and the community.”

Meanwhile, it emerged on Thursday that WA has the lowest percentage of fully vaccinated residential aged care workers fully vaccinated against COVID.

Federal Health Department data 37 per cent of the aged care workforce had received at least one dose and only 22 per cent were fully protected against COVID.

This was well below the national average of 51 per cent who had received one dose and 32 per cent who had been doubled jabbed.

Mr Cook said vaccinating aged care residents was the responsibility of the Commonwealth, but Federal authorities did not undertake work to vaccinate the staff who look after them.

The State Government is now doing that work and, under a National Cabinet agreement, mandatory vaccination of aged care workers will come into effect on September 17.

Australian Nurses Federation state secretary Mark Olson encouraged all nurses to roll up their sleeves, but said they should be allowed to get vaccinated in work time.

“I've got loads of emails from nurses that say, ‘My manager won't let me off to go and get vaccinated because we're short staffed’. Or, ‘I've been told by my manager if I've got any symptoms, and I have to take time off after being vaccinated, that's going to be on my own time. I'm going have to take annual leave or some other other leave, but not sick leave, and certainly not COVID leave,” Mr Olson said.

“So all these mixed messages are going on. It's really simple. If we can get the right settings, if we can educate if we can incentivise, if we can remove all obstacles, then I think you'll find that those vaccination rates skyrocket.”

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