Westpac, Commonwealth Bank begin workplace Covid vaccine trial

Two of Australia's biggest banks will begin trialling workplace vaccinations to ward off COVID-19 in south-west Sydney.

Westpac and Commonwealth Bank will implement a workplace vaccination pilot, designed in concert with the federal government, beginning with the readily-available AstraZeneca jab.

The pilot will work in tandem with the existing Commonwealth and state vaccination rollout, with employees able to book their appointments online.

Westpac announced onsite workplace vaccines for some employees in south-west Sydney, where the virus is driving Sydney's ongoing outbreak, will begin this month.

CEO Peter King said the bank employed around 10,000 people in the eight worst-hit local government areas, and vaccination hubs would ensure they had easy access to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

"We know that a vaccinated population is how we will have more freedom, open borders and a more normal way of life. We are committed to doing what we can to get more people jabbed and the vaccination rates at the levels they need to be for lockdowns to lift," he said.


"For employees who continue to attend a work site, such as a branch, having access to these pilot vaccination hubs will make it easier for them to balance the demands of work, home life and being in lockdown, while prioritising their health and getting vaccinated."

CBA will begin offering vaccines to its customer-facing employees from Monday, with the jabs to be voluntary and free of charge.

CEO Matt Comyn said the company had worked closely with the federal government over the pilot, which could eventually include employees' families.

"As one of the country's largest employers, we fully support all of the efforts being made to vaccinate Australians. The national roll-out program offers a clear pathway out of the current lockdowns while helping the country's recovery from the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 more quickly," he said.

The bank was in communication with the health care provider which administered its annual flu jabs.

NSW recorded another 233 cases on Wednesday, its 14th consecutive triple-digit daily increase, as Premier Gladys Berejiklian warned vaccines would be the state's main path out of lockdown.

Covid-19 Taskforce Commander Lieutenant-General John Frewen said the federal government was looking to introduce vaccinations in "every possible place of vaccination that we can".

He said mRNA jabs would be added to workplace vaccination hubs by October at the latest.

"The GPs have been doing great work. We have got the pharmacies coming into play now. The state hubs have been very busy," he told the ABC on Wednesday.

"I am very pleased that CBA and Westpac will do a workplace vaccination trial with AstraZeneca. But we have been engaged in industry over the last few weeks [and] I have run activities with a range of industry sectors.

"As soon as we have got the mRNA vaccines available as well, then they will get into workplace vaccinations."

It comes after data suggested Australian businesses were more opposed to mandatory vaccinations than their international counterparts.

Aged care workers will be required to be vaccinated from September, and the prospect of extending that to other frontline sectors has been mooted.

But the federal government has ruled out mandating vaccines across the board, insisting Australia's traditionally high vaccine would be sufficient to immunise more than 70 per cent of the eligible population.

And a survey of 672 Australian employers conducted by Employment Hero found 67 per cent were unsure or opposed to mandating vaccines for all staff.

Across the four surveyed countries - also including Malaysia, the UK and New Zealand - that figure averaged out at 58 per cent.

Employment Hero CEO Ben Thompson said employers were forced to juggle the individual rights of employees with the broader safety of their workplaces.

"But given the complexity and severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, the freedom of choice argument is now being rebutted with conversations around duty of care and what's best for society as a whole," he said.

"[That's] why we're seeing some employers sitting on the fence regarding the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines."

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Commonwealth Bank and Westpac will trial workplace vaccinations this month. Picture: Karleen Minney

Commonwealth Bank and Westpac will trial workplace vaccinations this month. Picture: Karleen Minney

This story Two big employers to trial giving vaccines at workplaces first appeared on The Canberra Times.


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