Why the RACGP supports mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers

Karen Price

17/09/2021 4:27:57 PM

The college’s stand is about showing leadership and protecting patients, practice staff and the wider community, President Dr Karen Price writes.

RACGP sign.
The RACGP supports mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for healthcare workers, including GPs.

Earlier this week, the RACGP released a position statement in support of mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers, including GPs.
It is not a stance we have taken lightly, nor are we shying away from the broader implications this position could have for some people. We know members of the community – including within the college – do not believe in mandatory vaccination, even for a disease as infectious and deadly as COVID-19.
However, as doctors our most essential responsibility is the health of our patients. We cannot be instruments of harm and, as such, we have a duty of care to protect people through any and every means at our disposal – especially when we have access to proven, safe and effective vaccines amid a deadly pandemic.
The ongoing and increasingly serious Delta outbreaks occurring in New South Wales and Victoria show that COVID is here to stay. And through our role at the coalface of Australian healthcare, it is only a matter of time before each and every one of us is exposed to the virus.
Despite our best efforts to triage effectively, don appropriate PPE and employ other mitigation strategies such as air filtration and social distancing, a substantial number of general practices have become exposure sites – particularly in this latest wave.
Aside from protecting patients, we also have a responsibility to protect ourselves and our staff. We know healthcare workers are vulnerable to infection, and we also know that literally hundreds of thousands of our colleagues have lost our lives globally fighting this serious disease.
We are fortunate that this is a tragedy we can avoid in Australian general practice, provided we take responsible action now to ensure we are doing all that we can to protect ourselves.
As many of us will know, it is not unusual for doctors to have our vaccination status scrutinised. Even prior to COVID, GPs, nurses, medical students and other doctors would often have to have it checked for serious communicable diseases like measles, polio, hepatitis B, TB, and whooping cough.
We accept this as part of the job and, in this context, the only difference between a disease like measles and COVID is that COVID is vastly more deadly; in the decade before the first measles vaccine was developed in 1963, 3–4 million people were infected in the US each year and an estimated 400–500 people died. In contrast, 1871 people died of COVID in that country yesterday.
Speaking personally, I simply cannot fathom how a healthcare worker – a person who has dedicated their life to protecting and helping patients – could argue that their right to remain unvaccinated is more important than the health and safety of vulnerable patients who could potentially die as a result of their decision. 
Perhaps there is still misinformation or fear operating there and I would advise them to only seek information from high quality, evidence-based peer reviewed medical sources like the RACGP, Australian Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation (ATAGI) or the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). 
There is no conspiracy.
However, the RACGP also recognises there are exceptions to every rule and a small percentage of us may have valid health reasons that mean they cannot be vaccinated. Unfortunately, I think these people will have to consider redeployment to non-patient-facing roles if they want to remain in healthcare.
This is an issue the wider health system is going to have to grapple with, but it is a difficult discussion that will need to be had for the sake of our patients and society as a whole.
As President of the RACGP, I am proud of the leadership we have demonstrated in this space.
Some will call it controversial or brave which are judgements, opinions or politics. In reality, it is an evidence-based science-led decision with ethical considerations on patient safety.
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Dr Alexandra Bernhardi   18/09/2021 8:00:32 AM

Evidence shows that current COVID vaccines are helpful to prevent death and severe disease in the vaccinated person at risk - and that it does not prevent infection itself.
As GPs we have been taught to practise evidence-based medicine.
This is what I expect from the RACGP even in a highly political debate - look at the evidence!

Dr Vishal Kohli   18/09/2021 8:32:55 AM

Its worrisome that instead of looking at the evidence the RACGP has taken the political stance of "guilt trip them into it". I can't believe they're still trying to sell the "you're killing grandma" rhetoric of 18 months ago. The absolute risk reduction in transmisiility between double vaxed n unvaxed is 4.4% with similar viral loads. so despite being double vaxed I could still be a risk to my patients. These vaccines protect me selfishly only, so stop lying about "how im serving my community". There's no science backing mandation

Dr Daniel Thomas Byrne   18/09/2021 8:44:05 AM

100% correct call by the RACGP.
Cum Scientia Caritas - “science with care”
(the RACGP motto).

Dr Oliver Ralph Frank   18/09/2021 8:57:26 AM

Well said, Karen Price.

Dr Matthew Hugh Routley   18/09/2021 9:21:00 AM

Dr Price
Please justify your comment that Covid is "deadly" enough to justify medical conscription.
Australian data shows Covid kills no more people than annual influenza, and these deaths have predominantly been in the elderly (average age of death 85yo). Even if the vaccines were tremendously effective at producing herd immunity (which they don't), a medical college president should never encourage the conscription of people in medical experimentation.
The "vaccines" do not meet the currently accepted definition of a vaccine, they have zero long-term safety data, and they have provisional authorisation only by the TGA. They are technically still in "trial" phase.
To enforce mandatory vaccination ignores a human's rights under the Australian Constitution 51.23A, any state based Human Rights Act, Nuremburg Code, UN Charter of Human Rights and Bioethics, and denies them the right to informed consent-all principles that YOU should be defending.

Dr Gillian Riley   18/09/2021 10:56:59 AM

I’m with you, Dr Price. Well said.

Dr Lindell   18/09/2021 12:03:47 PM

I couldn't agree more with Dr. Price.
That people of our profession still claim the evidence is not there. Using international and national expert sources it is overwhelmingly there. You don't have to look far to find the evidence.

Dr Ayodele Ezekiel Ogunjobi   18/09/2021 12:17:29 PM

RACGP and Dr Price have become a political force of fascism in the name of "greater good" . Dr Price' please send out to all RACGP members the evidence that support the so call vaccines and their effectiveness-there is none that meets rigorous criteria of RCT. By definition of vaccine, what we are pushing for does not meet criteria for a vaccine.The PCR test (Covid test) is a farce. Never in my over 30 years of medical career is a PCR test allowed on healthy individuals. It is to be used on sick patients with a tentative diagnosis. PCR raises unnecessary alarm and destruction of livelihood. Asymptomatic individuals posses no risk. If RACGP has any role no, it is to defend GPs, bring hope, advocate for ambulatory care of patients with medications with proven records of safety be allowed to be given to patients and open up our economy. Any medical intervention against the wish of the recipient is against our oath as doctors. Let is not be a fascist but be scientists.

Dr Amir Faham   18/09/2021 3:22:28 PM

Dr Price

While I am supporting vaccination program in GP setting, mandating covid vaccination at this stage where evidence is not enough and we need more data on this which may take few years , is brutal act on Drs that they decide not to get vaccinated at this stage . Why Drs for should leave their practice if they decide not to get vaccinated ?
I am somebody that done vaccine myself and for my family but asking drs to leave their practice due to not being vaccinated for covid is brutal .


Dr Beata Filipowicz   18/09/2021 4:01:45 PM

If RACGP believes in mandatory vaccinations of GPs against Covid why the college has never mandated vaccinations against Influenza? Isn’t it serious enough for our vulnerable patient? Somehow it’s adequate to immunise people at risk and those who choose to be vaccinated annually against Influenza but not against Covid. I find Dr Price’s comment “ However, the RACGP also recognises there are exceptions to every rule and a small percentage of us may have valid health reasons that mean they cannot be vaccinated. Unfortunately, I think these people will have to consider redeployment to non-patient-facing roles if they want to remain in healthcare. “ offensive and insensitive. Dr Price believes that if you have a good reason not be vaccinated you can just forget 10 years of training to become GP and however many years of practice and just quit the job. I am disappointed in RACGP position and it certainly doesn’t not represent what I stand for. Regretful.

Dr Irandani Anandi Ranasinghe-Markus   19/09/2021 8:09:19 AM

Completely agree with RACGP’s stand on this. There’s a fundamental difference between Influenza and COVID. We all know that asymptomatic carriage of COVID and the spread from asymptomatic carriers is the issue. Most of us have been having our annual influenza vaccine and would obviously not come to work with flu symptoms! COVID is different - and now we just have to ensure we have our COVID vaccine as often as it is recommended based on evidence.

Dr Wendelin Ikarus Dietrich Fischer   19/09/2021 5:47:35 PM

Mandatory vaccination with genetic vaccines for otherwise healthy low risk people is a great idea !

Well of course it is completly justified isn‘t it?
- given we actually know that those vaccines prevent transmission ?

Given they are effective ?

And fully safe, have had carcinogenicity, genotoxicity and full fertility testing ?

And have been used for many years?

Given COVID shocking infection fatality rate ?

And we have sufficient longterm or any data on above !

And then they will lead us to „herd immunity“, like israel, singapore or iceland.
- all those counties with vaccination rates around 80% of adults, please see their great statistics online !

(on -e.g. Israel close to world highest incidence of covid... despite 3 million booster doses)

Quick lets get rid of all health care workers opposed to this in the middle of this deadly pandemic!

Dr Wendelin Ikarus Dietrich Fischer   19/09/2021 6:10:15 PM

Not so fast !

Prevention of transmission ?- Surprise no hard data on this - on the contrary! it seems that
fully vaccinated adults can carry the same amount of coronavirus as those who are unvaccinated. (Viral load)

Effective ?
Well this seems to be a rather temporary thing judging by above mentioned statistics from Israel - if a booster will actually help won’t be known until after the experiment

Safe ?
Well were do we see this ? On VAERS database?
Or EMA database ?
-No you need to ignore the shocking numbers on there to come to this conclusion

Well at least COVIDs shocking infection fatality rate is known !
Thanks to Prof Ioannidis of Stanford:

“ In people younger than 70 years, infection fatality rates ranged from 0.00% to 0.31% with crude and corrected medians of 0.05%.”

99.95% of people <70 will survive!

Dr Wendelin Ikarus Dietrich Fischer   19/09/2021 6:34:16 PM

So what are the real risks with those new vaccines ?
Well what gives me nightmares with mandatory vaccination for low risk people are following problems:

1) ADE
Common problem with spike protein vaccines for other coronavirus (SARS or FIPS) and recently discovered infection enhancing antibodies in COVID (Prof Arase Osaka, cell) make this unfortunatly scenario more likely
2) spike protein is toxic
Look up SALK institute study
How much of this stuff is actually produced in our bodies afterwards? (“The dose is the poison, in some”)
3) Original antigenic sin
(“Boosters won’t work for upcoming new variants- people only react to the original spike protein but not variants”)
4) unknown longterm side effects (cancer, neurologic complications, autoimmune problems e.g lupus, genotoxicity)

As often in human history and medicine the road to hell is paved with good intentions

Dr Mohammed Atiqul Hasan Ansary   19/09/2021 7:18:31 PM

Dear dr Price,
Please do not try to become a political instrument against freedom. In order to serve the community as a health care professional, like many of my colleagues I do not believe vaccine is the answer or solution. One must have the right to choose what he or she wants to inject in his or her own body and this should neither affect someone's livelihood. No one has the right to impose his or her belief on others. Differences in opinion does not mean you are wrong or I am right. We should learn to respect each other's opinion and belief and respect individual's right. As health care professionals, all our life we have learnt to look after our patients and I believe we are doing it well. What you are proposing, is a recipe for disaster. The vaccines are not free from side and adverse effects. How can you justify vaccinating a young fit and healthy individual forcefully and cause them death from TTS, causing pulmonary embolism, disability with GBS etc.

Dr Safwan Hayati   20/09/2021 12:32:29 PM

A fundamental aspect of science is that it can always be questioned. That is how we grow. From questioning the flat world theory, to Darwinism, to the more currently debated COVID issues - one should refrain from being so sure about always being on the right side.

Make a scientific opinion mandatory and you will kill the scientist in doctors. The public will have merely robots following orders and guidelines, disguised as local doctors.

Dr Noel John Brown   20/09/2021 8:19:21 PM

I find the RACGP position disgusting. I violates every persons right to choose. It violates the statement in the Australian Immunization Handbook produced byThe Department of Health and Aging about consent "It must be given voluntarily in the abscence of undue pressure,coercion or manipulation" as well as the Nuremburg accord which states the same principle.
The statement about a Safe and effective immunization is untrue. The medium and long term safety in not known even by the manufacturers so how can RACGP make such statements? Equally disgusting is the TGA 's reasoning about use of ivermectin .
All debate seems to be suppressed and this seems to be aided by mainstream media. I hope that someday soon we will have an evaluation of all the facts presented without bias. In the meantime there will be individuals and organizations that will quote this stance by the RACGP as though it was truth
The RACGP has and probably will loose a lot of credibility with this statement.

Dr Wendelin Ikarus Dietrich Fischer   22/09/2021 4:23:33 PM

Shouldn’t vaccines at least finish their formal safety trials before being made mandatory ?

Well surprise at least pfizer hasn’t !

Phase 3 is ongoing till May 2023
(anyone can check as per US

Dr Anthony Francis Dique   27/09/2021 7:45:48 AM

You can't mandate something with a risk of serious harm or death. For the government to do so is immoral.
For a doctor to endorse such a policy is immoral and unethical, and quite frankly stupid.
This should be self-evident.
Furthermore, the vaccines do not reduce transmission to a degree significant enough to support such an argument. Not even close.
The vaccine program is essential to the management of this pandemic.
But mandating them for ANY sector in the community is WRONG.

Dr Anthony Francis Dique   15/11/2022 3:51:21 PM

Associate Prof price, I invite you to update the RACGP policy position on vaccine mandates. I think this is necessary in light of recent evidence. If you have already made such a statement I would be happy to for you to direct me to that. It would be worrisome if your policy had not changed given said recent evidence, and the fact that evidence-based medicine remains at our core as doctors.