Consultation to begin on repealing mandatory health staff COVID-19 vaccination requirements
Published Friday, 01 September, 2023 at 10:33 AM
Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women
The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
- Queensland Health will undertake consultation with key stakeholders on removing employee COVID-19 vaccination requirements
- The consultation follows a decision by the Chief Health Officer that a vaccination mandate is no longer necessary for health workers
- COVID-19 vaccination requirements for health staff were an integral part of the Queensland Government’s successful strategy that helped keep Queenslanders safe throughout the pandemic
Following the careful consideration of all relevant factors, and with community safety front of mind, Queensland’s Chief Health Officer has determined that it is no longer necessary to continue mandatory COVID-19 vaccination requirements for Queensland Health and Queensland Ambulance Service staff.
This decision has taken into consideration the changing nature of COVID-19, expert health opinion, the safety of employees and patients, and a range of other factors, and is a further step in Queensland’s evolving response to COVID-19.
As a result of this decision, a two-week consultation period with staff, unions, patient safety advocacy groups, and other stakeholders will begin on Monday on whether to repeal the current mandate.
Following stakeholder feedback, a final decision will be made by the Acting Director-General of Queensland Health based on the Chief Health Officer’s advice.
Health Employment Directive No.12/21 was introduced by Queensland Health in September 2021, requiring all employees working in a facility or service where health care is provided, to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
The directive was part of a range of successful measures that helped keep Queenslanders safe throughout the pandemic, particularly frontline health workers, with Queensland recording one of the lowest COVID-19 mortality rates in the world.
Fewer than 2300 people have died from COVID-19 in Queensland (43 per 100,000 population; the national average is 60 per 100,000).
All Queenslanders, including health staff, are still strongly encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19, Influenza, and other communicable diseases.
Depending on their role, health workers continue to be required to be vaccinated against other infectious diseases, such as hepatitis, measles, mumps, and rubella.
Quotes attributable to Queensland Minister for Health and Ambulance Services Shannon Fentiman:
“The Queensland Government’s strong response has protected the people of Queensland throughout the pandemic.
“We have repeatedly led by example - demonstrating effective control of community transmission, and while some of the public health measures were difficult, including the staff vaccination mandate, Queensland had one of the lowest mortality rates in the world.
“Queenslanders should be congratulated for following health advice since the beginning of the pandemic and supporting our efforts to keep COVID-19 case numbers low and our state safe.
“The decision to undertake consultation on the vaccination requirement has been informed by advice from the Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation, the Communicable Diseases Network Australia, and infectious diseases and infection control experts.”
“We will now let the consultation process with relevant stakeholders run its course before making a final decision.”
Quotes attributable to Queensland Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Catherine McDougall:
“I have advised the Director-General of Queensland Health there is no clinical need to continue the requirement for staff to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
“As with any decision I make, it is backed by the latest scientific evidence and health advice.
“The COVID-19 vaccine requirement had a specific purpose: to protect Queensland Health and Queensland Ambulance Service employees and patients from severe COVID-19 infection.
“At the time it was introduced, Queensland – like all jurisdictions – was particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Vaccination rates were low, the community was experiencing repeated COVID-19 waves and transmission rates were high.
“The timing is right for the Director-General to consider the ongoing need for a COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
“A decision to repeal the COVID-19 vaccination mandate for Queensland Health and Queensland Ambulance Service staff is consistent with steps taken by other Queensland Government departments.
“As with other communicable diseases, I continue to encourage people to stay up to date with their COVID-19 vaccinations.”