Mother of five faces uncertain future as vax laws loom

WA workers set to take vaccination stand

Workers in WA's South West have expressed concerns over the WA state government's planned mandate for the COVID-19 vaccine, and say they are unsure what the future holds for their families.

Premier Mark McGowan announced late last month that obtaining the vaccine would be mandatory for a long list of occupations, including workers at supermarkets, pubs, restaurants, post offices and hardware stores.

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Employers will face a $100,000 fine if they are found to have employees who aren't vaccinated. Individual employees will face $20,000 fines.

As employers reacted to the changes, some workers have spoken out against the mandate.

"I don't like the way the government is going about this," mother-of-five and South West resident Casey told the Mail this week.

She and her teenage daughter are employed within the same industry, and had been forced to accept they may be out of a job in coming weeks.

"I'm not completely anti-vax," she said.

"Of my five kids, the older ones are all vaccinated, and things like tetanus, I agree with that. After learning more about it and understanding the risks more, I chose not to vaccinate the youngest two and there is a noticeable difference.

"[I believe] this particular vaccine hasn't been tested properly, and my eldest daughter and I have chosen not to get it."

Casey's daughter was first to attend work following the announcement, and it was clear the choice would mean she would no longer be able to be employed.

It's putting us in a tough position, having to make that call.

Casey, South West resident

"The boss did kind of make it a no-brainer, and by the time the announcement was made I had already been clear about my stance on the issue, so they already knew how we felt," Casey said.

She said with her husband also working in a mandated industry and unwilling to receive the vaccine, the financial impact on the family would be "massive".

"It's putting us in a tough position, having to make that call," she said.

"They said months ago that between 70 and 80 percent would be satisfactory and we're at that level now, why isn't that good enough?"

In NSW, almost 5000 teachers are risking suspension because they haven't yet said if they are vaccinated against COVID-19.

Unvaccinated teachers will be suspended from Monday, when a public health order begins mandating vaccination for the state's educators.

WA Premier Mark McGowan has insisted WA is well-placed to make a "soft landing" out of the pandemic, reaching high levels of vaccination whilst avoiding the need to reimpose restrictions such as capacity limits and mask-wearing within the state.

As of Monday, WA had zero active COVID-19 cases compared to almost 22,000 in Victoria.

The premier urged Western Australians to receive the vaccine ahead of the impending deadline.

"We have a virtually unique opportunity to get to very high levels of vaccination before such time as we have COVID come in," Mr McGowan said.

"We're heading towards the end of this, we're just going to remain safe whilst we get there. Vaccination is safe, effective and the best protection we have against COVID-19."

Health Minister Roger Cook said WA was "entering the final crucial phase".

"The final minutes of the game are the most dangerous, it's the time when you make mistakes," he said. "Our enemy, the pandemic, never stops - it doesn't fatigue... so we can't keep our eye off the ball. We have to keep working hard."

The premier has outlined mandatory vaccination requirements for most of the state's workforce, including a January 31 deadline which would coincide with the end of the school holidays and potential reopening of borders.

WA's cap on returned overseas travellers will double to 530 once it reaches 70 per cent full vaccination.

This story WA workers set to take vaccination stand first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.