Meatworkers moved to front of vaccine queue

Meatworkers will be near front of coronavirus vaccine queue

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Australian meatworkers will be near the front of the queue when the coronavirus vaccine rollout begins next month.

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As an essential and labour-intensive industry, meatworkers will be near the front of the queue when Australia rolls out a coronavirus vaccine next month.

As an essential and labour-intensive industry, meatworkers will be near the front of the queue when Australia rolls out a coronavirus vaccine next month.

Australian meatworkers will be near the front of the queue when the coronavirus vaccine rollout begins in February.

And truck drivers are lobbying to be treated as a priority as well.

The first to be offered access to the vaccine under what the Federal government is calling Phase 1a includes quarantine and border workers, frontline health workers, aged care and disability staff plus residents.

The much larger Phase 1b is to include anyone over 70 years old, other healthcare workers, younger adults with an underlying condition and high-risk workers like emergency services personnel and meat processing workers.

It also includes Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who are over 55.

The voluntary vaccine program is now expected to begin in mid to late February.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he expects the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be approved by the end of January.

Meatworkers have been identified as a high risk group after a COVID-19 cluster was first identified at Cedar Meats in Victoria back in May last year.

Coronavirus detections continued at other Victorian meatworks which followed a global pandemic trend in the labour intensive industry.

Many industries are lobbying the government to move up the queue as the rollout moves closer.

Representatives for retail workers, truck drivers and many others have written to the Federal Government asking for special consideration when the vaccine is rolled out.

The Australian Road Transport Industrial Organisation has written to NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian asking her to use her influence on the National Cabinet to advance truck drivers in the rollout queue.

The organisation's Hugh McMaster said truck drivers needed priority access to ensure freight and food supplies are not disrupted.

"Our drivers travel more about Australia than anyone else ... they need protecting," Mr McMaster said.

"They could also be unwittingly be carrying the virus across borders."

He said there were 15,000 trucks crossing between Victoria and NSW every day.

"They also supply goods to many vulnerable locations like aged care facilities."

The Health Department says the vaccine strategy is based on medical advice which prioritises those who were vulnerable to coronavirus, at increased risk of exposure and working in jobs society needed to keep functioning.

The vaccine will be delivered in a two-step process and on a voluntary basis.

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