Australians Who Refuse COVID Vaccine Face Bans & Restrictions
PM Scott Morrison warns the government will make jab 'as mandatory as possible'
Australians who refuse to take the new COVID-19 vaccine will face being banned from restaurants, traveling internationally, and from boarding flights or using public transport, under new measures being considered by the federal government.
Australia's Prime Minister Scott Morrison has warned that his government will make the vaccination "as mandatory as possible."
Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Coatsworth said in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that bans and restrictions are being laid out by lawmakers.
Dr. Coatsworth also revealed that measures to encourage vaccine take-up would also be discussed by health officials and ministers.
"Looking at specific things like not being able to go into restaurants, not being able to travel internationally, not being able to catch public transport..." Coatsworth said.
"These are clearly policy decisions that will be discussed," he added.
"But there's no current mechanism to enforce that sort of thing at the moment," Coatsworth added.
He said the government could give people certificates to prove they have had the vaccine.
The government hopes a coronavirus vaccine will reach Australia by early next year and wants 95 percent of people to get the jab.
Dr. Coatsworth said he believes most people will do the right thing.
"I suspect the majority of Australians will get vaccinated and there will be a strong public view that for those who choose not to get vaccinated, there needs to be some sort of incentive, or stick perhaps, to make it happen," he said.
One option would be to withhold government support from people who do not get the vaccine.
The government already does this under the 2015 "no jab, no pay" rule that stops parents getting some tax benefits, Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate payments if they refuse to vaccinate their child.
Scott Morrison said on Wednesday morning he will make a coronavirus vaccine "as mandatory as possible."
The government on Tuesday signed a deal to bring Oxford University's vaccine to Australia as soon as it is approved, which could be at the end of this year.
As the news broke, thousands of anti-vaxxers bombarded politicians with online abuse and said they would refuse to take it.
But in an interview on Melbourne radio station 3AW, Mr. Morrison said he would make the jab compulsory.
"There are always exemptions for any vaccine on medical grounds but that should be the only basis," he said.
"I mean we're talking about a pandemic that has destroyed the global economy and taken the lives of hundreds of thousands all around the world and over 450 Australians here.
"We need the most extensive and comprehensive response to this to get Australia back to normal," he said.
Asked if he was prepared for a backlash from anti-vaxxers, the prime minister said: "I'm used to that, I was the minister that established no jab, no pay.
"My view on this is pretty clear and not for turning.
"You have to do it for yourself, your family, and for your fellow Australians."
Children have been required to take vaccines to attend school since 1998 unless their parents are granted an exemption.
Under the no jab, no pay scheme, the government removed exemptions for conscientious objectors.
Some scientists feared that making vaccines compulsory could make people angry and reduce immunization rates but rates slowly ticked up around the country from 2015.
Asked in a press conference today how he will make sure everyone takes the vaccine, the prime minister said: "We'll take those issues as they present and consider what steps are necessary at that time."
Some people are unable to take the vaccine for legitimate medical reasons.
Everyone else must be vaccinated to protect them, he said.
Acting Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said the first step would be to encourage people to take the vaccine voluntarily.
The elderly and healthcare workers are likely to be prioritized as the vaccine is steadily rolled out, the prime minister said.
Infectious diseases expert Raina MacIntyre of UNSW said she doesn't agree with compulsory vaccination.
"It should not be compulsory," she told Daily Mail Australia.
"Depending on how effective the vaccine is, we would need 70 to 90 percent of people vaccinated for herd immunity."
On Tuesday night Science Minister Karen Andrews said she was "attacked" by anti-vaxxers on Facebook and slammed them for spreading conspiracy theories.
"Last night, my social media pages were attacked by anti-vax protestors," she wrote in a Facebook post.
"While I support freedom of choice, in my role as Science Minister I'm not prepared to allow these people to promote pseudoscience."