Persuasion, not mandates, makes vaccinations effective

October 11, 2021
Photo: Jacob Andrewartha

The Socialist Alliance strongly supports vaccination as a public health measure. Vaccines should be free and easily available.

Making vaccines accessible also means providing paid time off work (including for casual workers) to get vaccinated and to deal with any side-effects.

The government needs to address people’s concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines.

Misinformation being circulated online, predominantly from right-wing sources, means that there is still a significant minority of people who have questions or suspicions about the COVID-19 vaccine. Some are confused about who to believe. Government health departments should work with grassroots organisations, including unions, to develop and fund campaigns that counter misinformation about vaccination.

In general, education and persuasion are more effective as measures for public health, and workplace health and safety, than relying on coercive mandates. Actions that compel people to vaccinate can turn some people who just have questions about the vaccine into anti-vax activists. Demonising those who are vaccine hesitant does not resolve vaccine hesitancy.

There are, however, certain work settings (especially during a phased opening up period) where vaccine mandates for workers may be warranted (e.g., for hospital or aged-care staff) to provide protection for the public, people in their care and co-workers.

In such circumstances, a public health order is a necessary precondition for such a mandate, but such public health orders need to be adequately justified. They also need to be negotiated with workers' representatives, with sufficient time and priority access to vaccines given to these workers to ensure they can be vaccinated prior to the mandate coming in. Under no circumstances should employers be allowed to make vaccination a condition of employment.

In circumstances where a public health order mandates vaccination, workers who are unable or unwilling to be vaccinated should not be forced out of work, but be redeployed to a role that does not place members of the public or co-workers at risk.

[This resolution was adopted by the Socialist Alliance National Executive on October 6. The Socialist Alliance's resolution "Rejecting the federal government's 'living with COVID-19' push" can be read here.]

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