Grave concerns over driver vax deadline

Grave concerns over driver vax deadline

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VACCINE DEMAND: Albury's Dom Shanahan, Shanahan's Livestock Transport owner, says plenty of drivers want to book in for vaccines.

VACCINE DEMAND: Albury's Dom Shanahan, Shanahan's Livestock Transport owner, says plenty of drivers want to book in for vaccines.

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Livestock transporter concerns over looming vaccination deadline.

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The head of Victoria's peak livestock transporters' association has expressed grave concerns about the looming deadline for mandatory coronavirus vaccinations for interstate drivers.

Livestock and Rural Transporters Association of Victoria president David Rogers said he'd written to the government about vaccines being mandated for Specified Worker (Multiple Entry) Permit holders from September 23.

"We understand freight workers will be given priority appointments during this time, however hundreds of drivers are still unable to secure vaccination appointments," Mr Rogers told the government.

"The freight network operates 24/7 and vaccination clinics, particularly in rural communities, are only open for a few hours each day or week.

"This makes it difficult for our drivers to get to these centres in operation hours."

The upcoming health protocols say evidence, such as documentation from the vaccine provider of a driver's first dose or a COVID-19 digital certificate, will be required.

Workers will need to apply for a new permit if their current one expires after September 23 and confirm that they have received their vaccine dose to be eligible.

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Mr Rogers said while the government had allowed the aged care sector 18 months to get staff vaccinated before making it mandatory it had only given the freight network 14 days.

"The association truly believes the Victorian government has made this requirement unachievable and, as a result, will force business to close and create a huge hole in the state and national supply chain.

"The LRTAV implores the government to push the window for mandatory vaccination of the Victorian freight and logistics Industry back to allow appropriate time for drivers to be vaccinated."

The LRTAV implores the government to push the window for mandatory vaccination of the Victorian freight and logistics Industry back to allow appropriate time for drivers to be vaccinated. - LRTAV president David Rogers

Truck friendly

Mr Rogers also asked the government to create more truck friendly vaccination clinics at suitable locations, even temporarily.

"They have a testing station at Pinaroo (SA), they have plenty of access, plenty of parking

"I got tested there on the way home so it wouldn't be hard to say you could be vaccinated there as well."

He said only about 60 per cent of LRTAV members had indicated they had been fully vaccinated or had their first jab.

"It's not for the lack of trying, they can't get an appointment when it suits them," he said.

"I leave on a Monday and come home on Thursday night."

In Queensland, authorities were using a mobile bus to deliver vaccinations from.

"That could work; at the saleyards you could have a bus there and people could go and get the jab while they were waiting to load.

No choice

Jason Tilbrook, JJ Tilbrook, Swan Hill said he was not an anti-vaxxer but was angry he was not given a choice.

"In a country like Australia, were we are supposed to have freedom on speech, mandating vaccines is wrong," Mr Tillbrook said.

"We should be able to say whether we want it or not."

He said he could see a lot of freight workers would not get the jab, causing potential worker shortages.

"We have a massive shortage of freight workers, in the industry, as it is."

He said constant rule changes were also frustrating.

"I think we are up to update 45 on the rule changes," he said.

Veteran driver John Beer, Romsey, said he didn't want drivers getting vaccinated on the side of the road.

"I don't agree with that, because some are going to get a reaction - you don't want a load of stock on, when you get a reaction," Mr Beer said.

"But it will make it easier for the drivers who have had the jab.

"They won't have to go through all this border stuff if they can prove they have had two jabs."

Albury's Dom Shanahan, Shanahan's Livestock Transport owner, said plenty of drivers wanted to book in for vaccines.

"The government implement all these protocols but some people can't get in to their doctor, until November," Mr Shanahan said.

"Once again, the government hasn't put much thought into what they are implementing."

Enforcement of the one-jab policy was making it much trickier.

"I am 99 per cent sure the police know it is un-doable and they will just let us do our jobs."

He said it was another way of the government hurrying people up.

"But it's the same old story, we are an essential service but don't get any priority given to getting tests back.

"We are supposed to have priority for vaccination, but that's not happening.

"We are just getting all the backlash and hurdles put in place - it's typical, just more hurdles and hoops to go through."

A Department of Health spokesperson said there were some workforces and settings where vaccination was required.

"This is a sensible precaution that helps keep our critical workers and community safe from COVID-19," the spokeperson said.

Commercial freight drivers need to apply for a new Specified Worker (Multiple Entry) Permit before September 23, providing evidence that they've either had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or are booked to have one by midnight on October 7.

The story Grave concerns over driver vax deadline first appeared on Stock & Land.

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