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News & Trends - Pharmaceuticals

GSK and Amgen update vaccine policies while OzSAGE experts push for vaccine-PLUS strategy

Health Industry Hub | October 12, 2021 |
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Pharma News: Going back to work is a major part of opening up society, and we need to adapt to a world where COVID-19 will remain a risk at work.

Relaxing requirements under Public Health Orders does not override an employer’s duty of care under work health and safety legislation, nor do Public Health orders cover all potential ways to efficiently protect employees and customers/clients.

Amgen Australia has announced a widening of their COVID-19 vaccination policy that now requires all Amgen Australia employees to be vaccinated by November 30.

Shannon Sullivan, Vice President & Managing Director, Amgen Australia & New Zealand commented “The widening of our approach to employee vaccination follows the second phase of consultation, this time with a cross section of our non-field employees who communicated a strong desire that everyone within Amgen Australia should be vaccinated. As a science-based company dedicated to improving the lives of both patients and the overall community, we strongly believe that it is our role to lead the way and play our part in tackling the biggest public health issue of our time.”

GSK and ViiV Healthcare Australia have also made the decision to implement a new policy requiring all employees in Australia to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

GSK Australia VP & General Manager, Christi Kelsey said “Our shared policy throughout the COVID-19 pandemic has been to act in line with government advice and employee safety. This advice includes the role of TGA-approved vaccines.

“At this point in time, being vaccinated against COVID-19 is the most effective measure we can take to achieve this. In developing the new policy, we wanted to be sure we were listening to our employees, as we have done throughout this pandemic. When we asked them about COVID vaccination via a company-wide survey we learned that almost 75% of our employees have already had their full course of vaccination and another 20%+ are well on their way to doing so. This is clearly an issue of importance to all of us.”

OzSAGE, a diverse and multi-disciplinary network of independent Australian experts who are an additional resource for governments, non-government stakeholders and the community within Australia, is pushing for a vaccine-PLUS strategy.

The organisation has developed a practical guide for businesses on opening safely. The guide looks at ways to change work practices and planning to minimise risk. It covers safe indoor air, the use of rapid antigen testing, contact tracing at work, masks and vaccination.

OzSAGE’s Professor Jason Monty said “Workplace safety is the cornerstone opening up society and to keep people safe from the effects of COVID-19 for the foreseeable future. By increasing awareness of workplace risk reduction strategies amongst employers and employees, we can help keep our workplaces safer from COVID-19 transmission with a range of controls and methods that are not all expensive or overly time-consuming.”

Dr Karina Powers added “Embedding layers of controls against pandemic disease into your business, such as safe air and masking when needed, will make it far more likely that your business will remain open, not be subject to disruptions, nor lose key staff or clients to illness. Despite vaccination levels, all controls are important to protect health as immunity to the vaccine wanes, and reduce transmission that can occur despite vaccination. Occupational and Environmental Physicians, the medical experts in safety, can assist where there is uncertainty regarding controls, including vaccination.”

OzSAGE’s Professor Raina MacIntyre noted “Once we accept that SARS-CoV-2 is airborne, it is clear that safe indoor air is essential and that masks indoors will play a role in safe working for some time. Until we have better vaccines or widespread use of boosters, the current vaccines are not enough to control the Delta variant – experience from other countries who have tried and failed tells us that. If we open up with safe indoor air and a vaccine-PLUS as a strategy, we may avoid a crippling cycle of repeated lockdowns”.


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