COVID vaccine bombshell: Govt won’t rule out ‘no jab’ penalty

 

A no-jab no-pay style incentive to encourage people to take up a COVID-19 vaccine will not be ruled out by the Federal Government, as it seeks to make sure enough Aussies take up the protection.

But Health Minister Greg Hunt said it's not currently part of the plan and he expects a record number of Australians will voluntarily take up the jab without encouragement.

It follows the government revealing its national vaccine roll out plan on Friday, which included it reserving the right to implement "proof of vaccination" for entry or re-entry into Australia.

It comes as Queensland recorded no new cases overnight, leaving the state with just eight active cases in a total of 1185 confirmed cases.

Health Minister Greg Hunt says the government is reserving its right for “no-jab no-entry” style vaccination policies. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Marshall
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the government is reserving its right for “no-jab no-entry” style vaccination policies. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Sarah Marshall

Mr Hunt said the program would remain voluntary and that Australians were already "extraordinary vaccinators" when it came to the flu and childhood diseases.

"We're expecting very wide take up. There are always options which have been reserved," he said.

"But at this stage, I'm not anticipating that they will be drawn upon."

Asked about whether a no-jab, no-pay, which link children's vaccinations to family tax benefit­ payments, Mr Hunt said that was not part of the plan at the moment.

"We've been very careful to focus on the voluntary nature of this. I'm not going to suddenly rule things out," he said.

"But what I expect on the basis of the way that Australians have adopted the flu vaccine … they will probably be vaccinated in record numbers on an entirely voluntary basis."

In terms of methods of encouraging take up of a vaccine, Mr Hunt said they would be guided by experts, particularly the Australian technical advisory group on immunisation.

Health Minister Greg Hunt says the government is reserving its right for “no-jab no-entry” style vaccination policies. Picture: Allan Reinikka
Health Minister Greg Hunt says the government is reserving its right for “no-jab no-entry” style vaccination policies. Picture: Allan Reinikka

"Where they believe additional actions are required then historically we've always followed that," he said.

After Australia first signed up to the AstraZeneca vaccine in August, Deputy Chief Medical Offic­er Nick Coatsworth said that if an "incentive stick" were needed, current programs such as "no jab, no pay" could be used, but that there were no current plans.

Originally published as COVID vaccine bombshell: Govt won't rule out 'no jab' penalty


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