The Australian Medical Association’s Queensland President is calling for a overhaul of privacy laws to give companies in high risk COVID-19 industries the power to see which of their staff have been vaccinated against the virus.
AMA Queensland president Chris Perry told Sky News in an exclusive interview that vaccination data held in online systems through the Federal Government’s MyGov portal cannot be accessed by employers, even in high-risk industries such as health and aged care.
“There’s been suggestions that perhaps there should be legislation which could take precedence over privacy,” Dr Perry told Sky News.
“We would all like to see a bit more strength from the government and some legislation around getting the figures, being an employer being able to look at their staff who aren’t vaccinated and work out what they can do about it.”
Many public institutions, including hospitals, are not fully aware of how many of their staff have been vaccinated, given they rely on self-disclosure processes which occur on a needs basis and vary between organizations.
Any legislation would likely be specific to employers in industries which have higher COVID-19 risks, such as those working in health, aviation, and aged care.
“What do you do with someone in an aged care facility who refuses to get a vaccine for no other reason than they’re scared, or they’ve been reading strange science on the internet,” Dr Perry said.
“They could bring a deadly disease into the community and kill some of the staff, and then the business is liable more than the individual staff member is.”
“It’s a real issue and the government has to look at what they’re going to do about people refusing to have a vaccination in certain industries in the future, including health, including airlines, meatworks, it’s an issue and something we’ve got to think through.”
The proposed concept intersects on the difficult balance between individual rights and freedoms versus collective health outcomes.
The Public Health Association of Australia agrees that in higher-risk roles it would be beneficial to have clarity around vaccination status, but has raised other methods as a starting point.
“A vaccine pass applied to our passports, that might be a better pathway given that it’s voluntarily given by individuals,” PHAA CEO Terry Slevin told Sky News.
“We’re going to have to set some precedents that we might not be comfortable with, and we’re going to have to work our way through it in good faith.”