Australian workplace COVID-19 vaccine rollout to begin in October

Australians will receive their COVID-19 vaccine in the workplace from next month. Karleen Minney
Australians will receive their COVID-19 vaccine in the workplace from next month. Karleen Minney

Australians will be able to receive their COVID-19 vaccination in the workplace from next month in a bid to accelerate the national rollout.

The federal government has confirmed a workplace vaccination rollout will begin from mid-October, with an influx of mRNA vaccines expected in the coming weeks.

A tender released on Tuesday moved to create a panel of immunisation providers - including businesses, Commonwealth and state departments, and not-for-profits - to administer COVID-19 vaccines.

Pfizer and Moderna will be the primary vaccines available, though AstraZeneca will be ordered if necessary.

Businesses will be paid a fixed rate for each dose administered, depending on the jurisdiction, but will not be able to charge their patients. They will be eligible for Commonwealth funding to cover start-up costs.

The Commonwealth will provide the doses, stressing the scheme was intended to "complement, not compete with" state vaccination programs.

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Flu vaccines were already regularly administered in workplaces, and Health Minister Greg Hunt on Tuesday described the development as an "important step forward".

"There's no cost. It will be up to businesses to show that they can do it, but we'll be providing the vaccines and I'll be working to ensure that the vaccination providers are put there," he said.

"Whether you're in a Meatworks, whether you're in a Bunnings, whether you are in a restaurant, or you're in a distribution warehouse, this is something that can make it easier to get the jab."

Providers in each state and territory will be able to apply, and Mr Hunt said they would be assessed "in the coming weeks". They would typically need to administer at least 500 doses per week to employees and employees' families, as well subcontractors and their workforce.

"A priority ... is to support the large-scale vaccination of Australians in a range of employment or community settings," the tender read.

"[It will enable] safe and timely COVID-19 vaccinations, assisting [the] Australian government achieve the objectives of the National Campaign Plan."

The move could ease long wait-queues for vaccination, seen at the AIS in Canberra this week.

The plan was first flagged last month, with Australia set to enter the third and final stage of the National COVID Shield Campaign Plan in October.

The early stages of Australia's vaccine rollout were marred by undersupply of the Pfizer jab and damaging advice warning against the use of AstraZeneca in people under 60.

But an increase in mRNA vaccines, including the imminent availability of the Moderna vaccine, has enabled the rollout to be expanded.