Vexed or Vaxed?

Lately I have been having difficult conversations around the COVID 19 vaccination, writes Women on Boards Executive Director Claire Braund. Conversations with friends and on various social media platforms around individual rights versus collective responsibility; around the role and reach of Governments and human rights protections.
The Constitution has been frequently mentioned - usually by people who confuse it with the American Bill of Rights – as have our human rights protections. A doctor I know was sent a letter advising her of all the various legal means that would be used to stop her delivering the COVID 19 jab – including the Magna Carta!

Women on Boards is proudly supporting the government and industry push for everyone who is medically able to get COVID 19 vaccinated. Why? Because we believe it is the responsible, moral and safe course of action. To do anything else is foolish and poses an unacceptable risk to ourselves, our community and our country.

As at time of writing, 73.1% of people aged 12+ have received their first vaccination and 48.6% have been double vaxxed in Australia. NSW is vaccinating at the fastest rate, following by Victoria. True to form, WA and Qld are at the bottom of the federation table. I say this as these states, particularly WA, were laggards when it came to catching onto economically and socially progressive ideas, including appointing women to boards – though to be fair both states have made big gains since 2015-16.

Boards across the country are also reviewing COVID 19 Vaccination policies and have checked and triple checked the latest regulations and advice from the Federal Government, relevant State Governments and unions / employer bodies. It’s something of a minefield, but some State Governments and employers have already moved to mandating vaccinations for employees, volunteers and contractors where they have to attend or work on a site at which they may be at risk of contracting COVID 19. This includes schools, hospitals, prisons, aged care facilities and airports.

We all know people who will not get vaccinated. Friends and work colleagues who have surprised us by refusing the jab. Some of whom listen to conspiracy theories peddled widely on social media, others who have taken a fundamental objection to being told what to do by government and others who fear its effect on their bodies. All arguments can be rationally countered, but this is not about rationalism.

Boards and employers are wrestling with getting people safely back to work and addressing individual employee fears and phobias. HR departments must be working night and day. For governments it’s about allowing people to go about their lives in relative freedom and not over-running our hospitals with COVID cases. Seems like a win-win for vaccination, but the 20% (10% in some states) seem unlikely to budge.

Legally employers have been advised they can mandate vaccination if required to do so under a public health order or if it would be lawful and reasonable to do so for work health and safety reasons. In the absence of a government mandate, those employers who wish to mandate vaccinations or to collect information about the vaccination status of their employees will need to consider a number of employment and privacy law issues.

All of which means we are likely to become a nation of ‘the vaccinated and the unvaccinated’. Where if COVID 19 strikes hard in one of its many mutations the vaccinated have a better chance of survival than the unvaccinated. An awful prospect, but one that is very real. One that is also avoidable if the 98% of those who are able to be COVID 19 vaccinated do the right thing by their community and country and get the jab.


Can and will organisations mandate COVID 19 vaccinations for employees and what will be
the implications? Join Claire Braund at our special WOBChat on Wednesday 29 September with a panel of
business leaders and experts as they discuss this vexed issue. Click HERE for details.


Just a few more weeks until we get out of lockdown. The website gives you
the latest vaccination rates and they are looking pretty good in ACT, NSW and Victoria.
Come on Australia, you can do this!
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