Are healthcare workers required to be vaccinated?
Because of their jobs, healthcare workers are more likely to be exposed to, infected with, and transmitted to vaccine-preventable diseases such as COVID-19, influenza, measles, rubella, and whooping cough.
To protect the health and safety of patients and other health care workers and to maintain the immunity of health care workers, vaccination against specific diseases is strongly recommended for all health care workers.
Certain vaccines are now required for some healthcare workers and recommended for other employees depending on their likelihood of exposure to certain vaccine-preventable diseases. To ensure that all health care workers enjoy an adequate level of protection, work activities, not positions, are considered.
On March 25, 2020, the Health Services Amendment Act 2020 (Mandatory Vaccinations for Health Workers) came into force.
The amendment inserted sections into the Health Services Act 1988 and Ambulance Services Act 1986 that enable the Secretary of the Department of Health to direct health and ambulance services to require vaccination against selected vaccine-preventable diseases to protect Victorians better and create a safer healthcare system. Secretary Directions are issued when a vaccine is required for certain healthcare workers.
The Mental Health Act 2014 allows the Minister for Mental Health to issue a written direction on any matter that the Minister is satisfied is necessary, including requiring vaccinations for healthcare workers. Ministerial Directions are issued when a vaccine is required for Forensicare employees.
Vaccination requirements apply in:
- Public health services
- Public hospitals
- Denominational hospitals
- Private hospitals and day procedure centres
- Ambulance services
- Patient transport services that are engaged or engaged by a health service or Ambulance Victoria
- Residential aged care services operated by public health services
- Forensicare (via Ministerial Directions, influenza only).
See Health Services Act 1988, Ambulance Services Act 1986, and Mental Health Act 2014 for definitions of the above settings.
Healthcare facilities with immunization policies should develop a comprehensive immunization policy for all healthcare workers and should screen employees for specific immunization needs, taking into account contraindications and exceptions.
Immunization guidelines should include (at least) the requirements of the relevant agency or agency directives that exist and are relevant to the environment.
Work practices should also include the use of standard and supplemental infection control precautions to minimize exposure to infectious diseases.
Healthcare facilities that Department of Health vaccination requirements does not cover may, at their discretion, require an employee to vaccinate her against COVID-19. In this case, the employee should discuss the workplace vaccination policy with the employer.
Examples of establishments where vaccination requirements do not apply under Ministerial guidance (note that workers may be subject to the employer's vaccination policy).
Immunization of healthcare workers against seasonal influenza
On April 8, 2022, an executive order was issued requiring flu vaccination. An additional ministerial order was issued on June 6, 2022, making flu vaccination mandatory. This applies only to forensic personnel.
Influenza vaccination is compulsory for:
- Public health services
- Public hospital
- Religious hospital
- Private hospitals and day clinics
- Emergency services
- Patient transportation services contracted or contracted by a medical service or Ambulance Victoria
- Residential elderly care service operated by a public medical institution
- Forensics (according to Ministerial Ordinance).
According to these directives, category A and B healthcare workers in the above settings must receive seasonal flu vaccination by August 15, 2022 (and annually thereafter). This means medical staff and their patients are protected in good time before each year's flu season.
Stay healthy and safe!
Everyone, including medical staff, must take great care of their health. We have seen the importance of health for people's health through the recent Covid-19 pandemic. For those who are in direct contact with pathogens - healthcare workers, need to be more careful with their health, so vaccination is extremely necessary.
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