The Victorian Transport Association has written to Freight Victoria and relevant ministers to request a two-week extension to the deadline for mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for freight drivers entering Victoria.
This is to provide a more realistic timetable for vaccinations to be arranged, and to request practical assistance to bring vaccines to where drivers are working.
“We are acutely aware of the genuine and understandable concerns numerous operators have expressed about the unacceptably tight 23 September deadline the Victorian Government set for Specified Worker (Multiple Entry) Permit holders to receive a first COVID-19 vaccination,” said VTA CEO Peter Anderson.
“Discussions this week have led to the government making a revision to the vaccination mandate such that, provided a driver can show evidence of having booked a vaccination appointment to receive a first dose before 11:59pm on Thursday, 7 October, they will be permitted to enter Victoria using their Specified Worker (Multiple Entry) Permit.
“It is important to note drivers who have not received a first vaccine or have not made a booking for their first jab before 11.59pm on Thursday, 7 October, will not be permitted to enter Victoria from 11.59pm on Thursday, 23 September.”
There are numerous other issues the VTA is seeking clarification on from the Victorian Government including: What authorities will accept as acceptable evidence of a COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine booking; Whether vaccination hubs at truck stops and other locations drivers visit will be implemented; Whether restrictions will be lifted on drivers that have visited red or orange zones to visit medical centres to get vaccinated; and whether COVID-19 testing concessions can be relaxed for drivers that have been fully vaccinated.
“Until we receive concrete answers from the Victorian Government on these important issues, we suggest the drivers carry documentation from their vaccine provider, such as the vaccination card they may have received following their appointment,” Anderson said. “Drivers with a vaccination booking should carry documentation of their appointment such as a paper or text message confirmation of appointment.”
Freight workers with Specified Worker (Multiple Entry) Permits can receive a priority booking for COVID vaccinations and should call 1800 675 398 to book in at any state vaccination centre.
“Notwithstanding the concession for drivers that have booked a COVID-19 vaccination, we will continue to push for an across-the-board two-week extension of the 23 September deadline. We maintain the two-week notice provided does not acknowledge the genuine difficulties drivers have faced getting vaccinated in time.
“We also appreciate some drivers will choose not to get vaccinated, and that these people are facing difficult and life-changing decisions about whether to continue working in their chosen profession,” said Anderson. “They deserve to be supported at this time.”