The Victorian Government welcomes the Final Report into the Review of COVID-19 Mandatory Vaccination Orders in Victoria from the Independent Pandemic Management Advisory Committee (IPMAC) , and thanks members of the Committee for their work in producing the Report.
Victoria has one of the highest vaccination uptakes anywhere in the world. Victoria leads the nation on vaccination coverage based on socio-economic disadvantage, regional participation and uptake in priority communities.
The Victorian Government invested in substantial communications to Victorians regarding the benefits of getting vaccinated. Through the media, social media, traditional advertising, online advertising, community engagement sessions, and including culturally specific and in-language messaging to reach diverse and hard-to-reach populations, the Government disseminated information relating to the many benefits of vaccination against COVID-19.
It is because of a targeted communications approach, coupled with vaccine mandates that Victorians got themselves and their loved ones vaccinated. There is no doubt that vaccines work, and uptake kept many Victorians safe and enabled our state a pathway out of the pandemic. As the Report notes, vaccines played a significant role in the safe opening of Victoria.
Vaccination requirements were proportionate to the epidemiology and level of immunity in the community at the time and aimed to reduce transmission within workplaces, protect people from at risk of adverse outcomes and ensure the ongoing provision of critical goods and services.
The Committee has acknowledged the benefits of vaccine mandates, including the way they protected our most vulnerable (such as those in aged care), protected essential services and supply chains, reduced economic disruptions and protected the health system.
These sensible measures contributed to high vaccination rates among workers, reduced incidence of severe disease and transmission in high-risk settings and helped protect vulnerable members of the community.
The Chief Health Officer’s advice concerning vaccine mandates was published on the Pandemic Order Register, alongside the Minister’s Statement of Reasons and Statement of Charter Considerations.
The Committee’s Report provided the Victorian Government with 29 Key Findings, grouped into the 8 subjects or “pre-requisites”. The Victorian Government has developed a response to each of these 8 pre-requisites.
The Government notes these findings from the Committee and recognises the importance of providing the Victorian community with information regarding decisions that relate to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
All pandemic orders relating to vaccine mandates have been made publicly available on the Pandemic Orders Register in accordance with the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008.
The Government notes these findings from the Committee.
COVID-19 vaccinations were critical to the protection of all Victorians, and the Victorian Government is grateful to each and every Victorian for their role in managing the spread and severity of COVID-19 by getting vaccinated. In addition, Victoria is the only jurisdiction in Australia with a charter of human rights.
The Government thanks the Committee for recognising the significant communication efforts undertaken by Government departments, ‘targeting industry through established and new networks’, and recognises the importance of transparency and information sharing.
The Government notes this advice and agrees that mandatory vaccinations should only be used when the burden of disease is of great risk to community health and safety.
The Report notes that burden of disease associated with COVID-19 has been established and is high enough to warrant consideration of vaccine mandates, particularly in high-risk populations.
The Government notes that the evaluation of vaccines is a matter for the Commonwealth Government, and that the COVID-19 vaccines available through the mandates were found to have an acceptable safety profile by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
The Government notes the substantial public health advice regarding the efficacy in vaccines for protecting those most vulnerable from serious illness, and the importance from the first two doses of the vaccine for protecting against widespread transmission and hospitalisation.
By reducing transmission, high workforce vaccination coverage supported by vaccination mandates also diminished disruptions to workforces, including in critical healthcare and residential care settings.
The Government notes that vaccine supply is a matter for the Commonwealth Government and agrees vaccine supply should be sufficient and equally accessible for all Victorians. This is why we supported the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Vaccination program, with a particular focus on making sure there was equitable access across Victoria.
The Government notes the earlier implementation of less restrictive public health measures to drive down transmission of COVID-19 and mitigate serious illness and hospitalisation, such as testing, social distancing, screening and surveillance and mask wearing, which were employed before introducing mandated vaccination.
With escalating transmission and cases, worker vaccination mandates were introduced to protect workers and members of the public alike. Transmission was especially prevalent in indoor settings and even more especially so, between unvaccinated individuals. Maintaining a vaccination mandate as a baseline protected workers from the increasing transmission risk represented by the return to on-site work and facilitated easing of restrictions.
Reviewed 29 September 2022