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Industry bodies focus on vaccination effort

National and state organisations lift tempo as more drivers test positive

 

Industry continues to aid the transport and logistics (T&L) vaccine battle, with Australian Logistics Council (ALC) and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (PGA) and the Victorian Transport Association (VTA) amplifying state government worker vaccination advice.

The efforts come as a sixth interstate truck driver tested Covid-19 positive in South Australia and state chief health officer professor Nicola Spurrier was considering options with the industry for vaccinating truck drivers.

“We’re looking at how we can have vaccine clinics set up out on the regional roads,” Spurrier said.

Three drivers have tested positive in Queensland after entering from New South Wales.

Though two drivers tested positive after entering Western Australia recently, premier Mark McGowan emphasised the importance of their work and noted they had minimal contact with locals, having slept in their cab.

Nationally, the ALC and the PGA agreed an industry association partnership, providing ALC members access to the Guild Corporate Covid-19 vaccination program through a personalised booking platform.

The program will allow for immediate access to vaccinations for ALC member companies and their workforces through up to 3,500 pharmacy locations nationally.

The Guild Corporate Vaccination Program provides another pathway for essential freight and supply chain workers to get vaccinated, at a place and time convenient to them, the organisations noted. 

 “The partnership with the Pharmacy Guild is about mobilising existing health infrastructure and services, particularly in regional areas, to support ALC member companies and their workforces with access to Covid-19 vaccines,” ALC CEO Brad Williams said.

“Supply chain workers continue to be the unsung heroes of the pandemic.

“We hope by providing additional options for our member organisations to access vaccines, this will go some way to alleviating the pressure they are under with testing regimes and border restrictions.”

The agreement is said to be the first of its kind for industry associations partnering with the Pharmacy Guild.

“For many years now, Community Pharmacy has operated a successful nationwide workplace vaccination service delivering influenza vaccines under the banner of Guild Corporate Health, we’re proud to incorporate Covid-19 vaccinations into this service and partner with the Australian Logistics Council,”  the national president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, Adjunct Professor Trent Twomey, said.


Read how Qube set up a vaccination hub at Moorebank in western Sydney, here


Meanwhile, the VTA urged linehaul freight operators and others that regularly travel interstate are to note the following important updates issued by the Victorian government.

Freight Victoria has clarified priority vaccination options for Specified Worker Permit holders, following VTA calls for Victorian government assistance for essential linehaul transport workers to get vaccinated, the industry body said.

Support is available for freight workers who hold Specified Worker Permits under the Victorian Travel Permit System, and who have been in an extreme/red zone in the last 14 days. Those with a valid Specified Worker Permit can get a priority vaccination booking, with all Specified Worker Permit holders now able to access Pfizer regardless of age.

Specified Worker Permit holders who have not been in a red/extreme zone in the previous 14 days can go to any of the 50 state vaccination centres (bookings are required) or a GP clinic, community pharmacy and Aboriginal community-controlled organisations.

Specified Worker Permit holders who have been in a red/extreme zone in the previous 14 days can only go to a red zone clinic. These are located at:

  • Melbourne Showgrounds
  • Sunshine
  • Sandown Racecourse
  • Ford Campbellfield
  • Wangaratta

Workers must declare if they have been in a high-risk area and only attend a red zone clinic to ensure that bookings are made at the appropriate site. Priority bookings are only available via the Coronavirus hotline 1800 675 398. Non-priority bookings can be made online here.

A signed COVID-19 Vaccination Eligibility declaration is required when presenting to a vaccination clinic or other proof of employment.  

Changes to Victorian Border Crossing Permit Directions (No.30) also came into effect last Friday .

Updates included in these directions are:

  • the Specified worker (low workplace interaction) permit for travel to Victoria is renamed the Specified worker (multiple entry) permit.
  • permit holders travelling from orange zones must align to the same requirements of those travelling from red/extreme zones which add to minimise time in this zone, not carry passengers, keep records of travel and stops, wear a face mask, minimise contact with others, and limit time in indoor spaces.
  • permit holders travelling from orange zones must get tested within 72 hours of entering Victoria. 

Operators are also asked to note South Australia has modified its requirement for transport workers travelling from Victoria to either provide evidence of a Covid-19 test within the last 72 hours or they will be directed to undertake a test within 12 hours of entering the state.

A freight-friendly testing site is currently operating at the Nhill trailer exchange, Western Highway – 12pm-12am 

The update to the Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) Directions (No. 40) came into effect at 6pm last Friday, with added requirements for Covid-19 controls in warehousing and distribution workplaces. 

A guide to these requirements is available following the numbered steps on the Coronavirus warehousing, wholesaling, postal and distribution sector guidance webpage.

The VTA notes it is continuing to advocate for essential freight workers to be prioritised for vaccination, with many jurisdictions introducing mandatory vaccine requirements for drivers that cross borders.

It is calling for the Victorian government to:

  • Make it easy for transport workers to get vaccinated – bring the vaccine to drivers at pop-up vaccination sites at established testing centres, truck rest stops, depots and locations drivers visit whilst carrying out their work
  • Prioritise interstate drivers for vaccination – as an industry we have refrained from requesting early access to vaccination. However, if the government is going to mandate vaccinations for drivers, they must be prioritised;
  • Reward vaccinated drivers with less frequent testing – the requirement that drivers entering Victoria have a negative Covid test at least every three days is unnecessary for vaccinated drivers;
  • Designate the road transport industry as an Essential Service in a State of Emergency – transport workers have been doing essential work for over 18 months, yet the industry is not recognised as an Essential Service
  • Implement what it agreed to at National Cabinet – the Freight Movement Protocol provides a uniform set of conditions for the transport industry to support national supply chains. The Victorian government should implement national rules it agreed to.

 

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