GETTING definitive guidance through official channels remains elusive but written advice suggests veterinarians and stock hands working on livestock export ships should now be eligible to receive COVID vaccinations.
COVID infections have been recorded on three livestock export ships arriving at Australian ports in Western Australia and the Northern Territory over the past 12 months.
Shipboard stock men and women and veterinarians working on livestock vessels to and from Australia have had to endure multiple rounds of 14 day quarantine internments at the end of voyages.
Many are desperate to get COVID vaccinations but there has been little clarity as to their eligibility for early vaccination rounds.
The Australian Livestock Exporters’ Council has been seeking advice from Federal and State Government health authorities for several weeks.
ALEC CEO Mark Harvey-Sutton said that while it had been difficult to get a formal and watertight assurance, the clearest advice received to date had come from a Federal Department of Health email.
It stated that under the first phase of the national COVID-19 roll-out strategy, ‘quarantine and border workers’, (also described as ‘staff working at entry points to the country)’, are eligible to receive a vaccination.
The email from Federal Health officials said workers boarding live animal export vessels at Australian ports would be considered as “staff at entry points to the country” and so were eligible to be vaccinated in phase 1a of the roll-out.
The same advice recommended that members get in contact with their nearest vaccination clinics to arrange bookings.
“It has been difficulty to get clarity but the indications from the Federal Health Department is that we are included because we’re border facing,” Mr Harvey-Sutton told Beef Central this morning.
“We have received an indication from the Dept of Health that they are eligible in the current phases and we’re encouraging people to try and make appointments to try and receive vaccinations.”
Phase 1B of Australia’s coronavirus vaccination program has started today, with about 6 million people believed to be eligible to receive their first doses.
That includes Australians aged 70 and over, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged 55 and over, younger Australians with underlying health conditions and frontline healthcare workers.