RACGP releases position statement on mandatory vaccination

Matt Woodley

16/09/2021 3:11:18 PM

The college has come out in support of mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers, including GPs.

Nurse vaccinating man
The RACGP has said that all healthcare team members undertaking patient facing roles be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19, unless they are medically exempt. (Image: AAP)

The position statement highlights the potential benefits of widespread vaccination among healthcare workers, and proposes that GPs, practice nurses, reception staff and other team members undertaking patient-facing roles all be required to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
It also strongly encourages vaccination more broadly for non-patient-facing staff in all healthcare services.
New South Wales and Western Australia have already made healthcare worker vaccination mandatory (excluding general practice), and all aged care staff are required to have had at least one dose by Friday 17 September.
Meanwhile, the Herald Sun is reporting Victoria will soon introduce mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for all healthcare workers – including GPs – and that the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) is preparing advice for this week’s National Cabinet meeting aimed at achieving a nationwide consensus on mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers.
The RACGP believes all healthcare workers should be vaccinated for their own protection, as well as for the protection of patients and the broader healthcare system.
‘The healthcare system will inevitably be challenged as restrictions ease, even with high vaccination numbers,’ it states.
‘Vaccination against COVID-19 of all healthcare workers will go some way to readying the system and sustaining the workforce now and into the future.
‘Immunisation is a safe and effective way to prevent serious disease and GPs and their teams have a key role in vaccine delivery and acceptance in the community.
‘Healthcare workers, by nature of their work and interaction with the community, are at greater risk of exposure to, and contraction of, COVID-19. Across Australia, thousands of healthcare workers and support staff have been diagnosed with COVID-19, of which a majority of cases were likely acquired in the workplace.’
Other potential benefits listed in the statement include reduced transmission of COVID-19 from healthcare workers to patients and other team members, and reducing disruption to services when healthcare workers are infected with COVID-19.
It also points out that mandatory vaccination has been implemented in various countries, and that GPs and other registered health practitioners have a responsibility to ‘promote the health of communities and meet obligations with respect to disease prevention, including vaccination, health screening and the reporting of notifiable diseases’.
However, while the college is in favour of mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers, it states that anyone who has any condition which contraindicates vaccination ‘should be exempt’. 
‘Where a healthcare worker is medically exempt from mandatory vaccination the worker should be supported to maintain their own health and safety and the safety of patients,’ it states.
‘Supportive actions will need to be taken on a case-by-case basis noting the current community transmission of COVID-19 in their area, access to personal protective equipment and the person’s ability to transition to different modes of practice such as consulting via telehealth or non-patient facing work.’
Eligible medical practitioners, including GPs, can record an individual’s exemption by completing the Australian Immunisation Register (AIR) immunisation medical exemption form.
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Dr Daniel Thomas Byrne   17/09/2021 6:26:28 AM

Excellent to see this policy document come out.
Well done RACGP Board. My practice has implemented this but now with the backing of the RACGP I feel more secure in our decision.

Dr Alexandra Bernhardi   17/09/2021 6:28:05 AM

I must say I am shocked.
Not about the fact that the RACGP is advocating COVID vaccination, but about the fact that they are supporting mandatory vaccination. I am pro-vax, but I am against mandates when they interfere with human rights. Even GPs have human rights.

Dr Alka Tyagi   17/09/2021 9:59:32 AM

excellent decision. we have already done that. vaccination is the way to go.

Dr Sulatha Minoson   17/09/2021 1:32:46 PM

I am against mandatory vaccination.

Dr Sulatha Minoson   17/09/2021 1:34:40 PM

Vaccination may be recommended but not mandated.
Every adult should make informed decisions.

Dr Rebecca Erfani   17/09/2021 1:39:39 PM

Thank you RACGP.

Dr Phong Kee Aw   17/09/2021 4:53:32 PM

This my 50th year of general practice.
I have been a member of The General Practice Society since its inception in the early 1970's and evolved into the RACGP.
I have been a Fellow of RACGP since 1994 and am a Life Member.
I have had many Year V medical students in my practice in the past for their work experience in GP practices.
Never have I seen such coercion by the College on its own members during this time.
I strongly believe one should not be coerced into doing something against their will and conscience.
There are MANY GOOD Doctors and Specialists out there who do NOT want to be vaccinated against their will.
It is their Right to have a Choice!
They are not a risk to their patients.
In overseas highly vaccinated countries, most Covid cases have been fully vaccinated.
We are drifting swiftly into authoritarian society which should not happen in a democratic society.
Happy for those who want to be vaccinated,
But do not force others who do not want to.

Dr Raed Masoud   19/09/2021 4:00:59 AM

The RACGP all of a a sudden flushed down the toilet the cornerstone of all ethical principles" AUTONOMY "
Ethics is part of RACGP curriculum , if the college all of a sudden abandoned this main ethical principle then the curriculum will be amputated and there will be no prosthetic for that .
As a human being , I'm autonomous therefore I'm free to choose
Mandate means coercion and it abolishes my autonomy
I that simple enough to understand ???

Dr Damien Mark Ford   20/09/2021 11:11:09 PM

As a background, I have been doing ED locums for the last 5 years. That’s a thing of the past unless I subject myself to a new vaccine that I have justified reservations about. This order has caused a tremendous amount of distress and division among staff in my workplace. I feel abandoned by a system I have worked for for over 20 years. It’s simply come down to “do it or your career is over.” I am disgusted by the coercive, standover tactics being used with regards to all of this. I have lost faith in my profession and my government and feel that this became more about a political agenda and less about sensible science or good quality evidence, and calculated risk assessment long ago, such that when this fear based mandate is finally enforced, I will, with much regret, abandon the Australian medical system altogether, citing my reason as “unreconcilable differences”

Dr Anthony Michael Franklyn   29/09/2021 8:34:11 PM

I am vaccinated, early uptake with AZ, I believe it is the right and correct thing to do in our profession as with the flu vaccine.
However, the RACGPs position statement of support for mandating is in my opinion an overstep of it’s mandate and I feel it should either be withdrawn or qualified that it is not representative of all their members’ opinions.
We, I had thought lived in a vibrant democracy. I thought the RACGP was a democratic organisation.
The act of mandating vaccinations against someone’s wishes is an act of totalitarianism.
It has no place in our organisation or our society.