Fourth jab push for healthcare workers

The Premier on Monday said he had been urged by hospital staff last week who to make fourth doses a “real priority”. “Many of the Covid cases that were coming into the hospital were coming in via staff,” Mr Andrews said. “They were the very first to be part of the Commonwealth vaccination program. “Some of their immunity is waning, so getting them fourth jabs as fast as possible is very important to help keep Covid out of the hospital.“That’ll be something that I’ll be raising with the Commonwealth as soon as I get a chance.”Mr Andrews’ calls to the Commonwealth won’t be to mandate a fourth dose, but to make one available for all healthcare workers. Currently, under ATAGI rules, an additional winter booster is only recommended for people at increased risk of severe illness. It would be given four months after their first booster dose. They are recommended for people older than 65, for aged or disability care residents, for severely immunocompromised people and Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islanders aged 50 and older.People aged 16 to 64 years who are not at risk of severe disease from Covid-19 are not recommended to receive a winter booster dose at this time.Mr Andrews’ calls would include all healthcare workers in this category.It comes as occupational therapist Holly Hale will be forced out of her 15-year career on Monday due to refusing a third jab. Ms Hale said she ended up in hospital for three weeks after having a negative reaction to her second dose. While no official linkage to the vaccine was made by the hospital, Ms Hale said she was not willing to have her third jab. She got the virus in February and had natural infection immunity which gave her an extension until Tuesday. Ms Hale said it was crucial that the government took up every opportunity to retain staff. “I know of colleagues who have had the booster but are just walking away because of burnout,” she said. “I feel mixed emotions as I know I am yet another staff member who has been forced to make a decision about my own health which has extensive impact on those colleagues I leave behind in a dwindling works force. “I don’t like to see colleagues suffering.”Ms Hale said she doesn’t know if she’ll stay in the industry and had been considering moving states to continue in the profession. “I could go across the border to New South Wales tomorrow and I could get a job but I can’t here,” she said. Ms Hale said the recent $3000 retention payment package – while well-intentioned – wasn’t the solution. “Throwing a surge payment at staff who are stretched beyond capacity doesn’t solve the healthcare staffing crisis,” she said. “Actually what would help them the most is if we’d have feet on the ground.“All he needs to do is lift the booster mandate.”

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