Australia to suspend unvaccinated health workers without pay, despite the fact that many have natural immunity
10/04/2021 // Ramon Tomey // Views

Australia will lay down rules centering on unvaccinated health workers, with emphasis on unpaid suspension.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has discussed the matter alongside calls for a national approach on how to deal with health workers refusing to get vaccinated. However, the moves by Canberra have been denounced as infringing on human rights.

According to, the new rules will encompass public hospitals, ambulance services, private hospitals, general practitioners, private nurse offices, consulting offices, pharmacies and private pathology centers. Under the new mandate, all health workers in these establishments must get Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines.

Some Australian states like Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) have already issued vaccine mandates for health workers. Around 94 percent of health workers in NSW have received the vaccine, but more than 5,000 have yet to get theirs. With NSW's first dose deadline for vaccination expiring Sept. 30, unvaccinated health workers anticipate their termination starting Oct. 1.

"It's pretty simple. If you don't care enough to get vaccinated and look after your colleagues [and] if you don't care enough about your patient, you probably shouldn't be in the health system," NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard says.

Meanwhile, nearly one in 10 healthcare workers of Queensland's 115,000-strong health workforce remain unvaccinated. The state's Health Minister Yvette D'Ath implores workers to get injected with the COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. "We require our health workers to get vaccinated for a range of immunizations. This is about keeping them, their work colleagues and their own family members safe," she says.


As of writing, three Australian states – Victoria, South Australia and the Northern Territory – have yet to finalize the mandatory vaccination guidelines for the healthcare workers. On the other hand, the Australian Medical Association wants all workers in the health sector to get the vaccine with only legitimate medical exemptions allowed. (Related: 3 Largest hospital systems in Massachusetts implement vaccine mandate, nearly 130,000 workers affected.)

Mandatory vaccination for health workers infringing on health freedom

However, Australian Federal Member of Parliament (MP) George Christensen slams compulsory vaccination. The former journalist turned politician compares the mandate to slavery and "medical apartheid" in an online broadcast.

"The whole rationale for mandating the [COVID-19 vaccine] in the workplace, it's not fair. [All] the rest of the vaccine discrimination and medical apartheid [that] certain politicians are proposing, it's not borne out by the facts," Christensen says.

"This is not an [anti-vaccine] thing. This is about freedom [and] about choice. [It's] about saying to both governments and corporations – 'You know what, we might be your employee, but we're not your chattel. We're no longer in a slave relationship where you can demand certain things be done with my body.'"

Australia is not the only nation that has implemented a ban on unvaccinated health workers. France has also done a similar measure, suspending 3,000 workers without pay for declining the COVID-19 vaccine. French Health Minister Olivier Veran has guaranteed that the country's healthcare will remain operational despite the recent events.

According to Veran, staff members have been notified in writing to get vaccinated with at least one dose before the government deadline expires. He adds that "several dozen" health workers have opted to leave their job than get injected. "A large number of these suspensions will be temporary. They involved mostly personnel in support service, like those working in laundry or food reparation," the health minister says. (Related: Medical staff shortages feared in France as health care workers balk at COVID-19 vaccine mandates.)

Veran adds that very few doctors and nurses remain unvaccinated. "Many of them have decided to get vaccinated now that the obligation to do so has become a reality," he says. According to Veran, "continued healthcare is assured" in France despite the suspensions thanks to the country's estimated 2.7 million health workers.

Singapore has also instituted a similar mandate, requiring employees turning down the vaccine to shoulder the cost of regular COVID-19 testing themselves and excluding them from COVID-19 medical benefits. The Singaporean Ministry of Manpower, National Trades Union Congress and Singapore National Employers Federation outlined this new rule in guidelines released Aug. 23.

According to the three entities, fields subject to this mandate include the health care sector, elderly care sector and the child care sector where workers interact with children aged 12 and younger. The new rule also encompasses dining establishments, gyms and fitness studios in Singapore. has more articles about different sectors mandating COVID-19 vaccines for their workers under threat of unpaid suspension.

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