Workers may be forced to get COVID jabs to keep their jobs
Aged care workers may be required to prove they have been received a coronavirus vaccination if and when it becomes available, in an effort to protect vulnerable Australians.
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Nick Coatsworth says the federal government will also have to consider whether restrictions are applied to people dining out, travelling domestically and catching public transport if they are not vaccinated.
After inking a deal for 25 million doses of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine candidate, Scott Morrison said he would work towards 95 per cent of Aussies getting the jab.
"I would expect it to be as mandatory as you can possibly make it," the Prime Minister said.
"There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds but that should be the only basis."
Mr Morrison said he would not be able to use "jelly beans" to get adults to accept vaccinations - a technique used on children - but hoped the community would see its importance regardless of incentives.
The Herald Sun understands people working with other vulnerable groups including Australians living with disabilities could also be required to be vaccinated.
Dr Coatsworth said measures including immunity passports would be part of future discussions, but the focus was currently on securing a viable vaccine and encouraging uptake.
"There will be a strong public view that those who choose not to get vaccinated need to, there needs to be some sort of incentive, stick, perhaps through the current programs including 'no jab, no pay'," Dr Coatsworth said.
"Looking at specific things like people not being able to go to restaurants, not being able to travel internally, not being able to catch public transport … these are clearly policy decisions that will need to be discussed but there's no current mechanism to enforce that sort of thing."
Elderly Australians, frontline health workers and people with underlying conditions will likely be the first to be offered the shot before younger and healthier people working outside high-risk industries.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said a widely adopted vaccine would be the "absolute ticket" to a return to some sort of normal
He flagged the Commonwealth would consider "linking vaccination with other programs".
Monash pharmaceutical biology Professor Colin Pouton it would be ethically difficult to mandate a vaccination but said the government should consider a proof-of-vaccination system.
"It's possible that it might be something the government would introduce," Prof Pouton said.
"It's a difficult area. People have a right not to be vaccinated but, in the end, we need a certain portion of the population to be vaccinated."
Labor health spokesman Chris Bowen said the government needed to be transparent with Australians about how they would mandate the jab.
He also accused the government of being "behind the eight-ball", with other countries having inked multiple deals for vaccine candidates.
AstraZeneca Australia president Liz Chatin said there was no guarantee its candidate would protect against COVID-19.
"We don't even know whether, how long that protection may last or at what dosage," she said.
"The science and the data is the priority, is the priority for us over the next few months."
While Melbourne-based CSL is tipped to produce the vaccine, chief executive Paul Perreault said there were still issues to work though.
He said if trials go to planned timelines, doses could be available for emergency use of the product by mid 2021.
Originally published as Why some workers could be forced to get COVID jab