Emergency services personnel denied jab priority in Latrobe Valley

EASTERN Victoria MP, Melina Bath, isn’t happy and she’s gone into bat for a poorly treated local CFA volunteer.

According to a media release by the Gippsland Nationals’ MP today, a Latrobe Valley CFA volunteer “has shockingly been denied a second COVID vaccine at a walk-in State Government run vaccination hub”.

Ms Bath claims the CFA volunteer was refused entry at the walk-in counter after being told the State Government was now prioritising the vaccination of construction workers.

But, under the national vaccine program, said Ms Bath, critical and high-risk workers, such as police and emergency services personnel are classified as a priority group and are supposed to be able to walk into state-run clinics to receive their vaccinations.

Under questioning in State Parliament on Thursday this week, by Ms Bath, Labor’s Minister for Emergency Services, Jaclyn Symes, refused to answer why emergency services personnel were no longer eligible for priority vaccinations at Victoria’s state-run vaccination clinics.

Ms Bath said it is unjustifiable that frontline emergency services workers have been removed from the vaccine priority list in Victoria by the Andrews Government.

“It’s disgraceful the Andrews Government policy is deliberately denying CFA volunteers from completing their Covid vaccination program at the state’s walk-in clinics,” said Ms Bath.

“The rights of emergency services workers to be vaccinated as a priority must be reinstated.

“Emergency services are essential frontline workers, and they must continue to have prioritised access for both their first and second vaccinations at all state run clinics.

“Our CFA volunteers play a critical role in our frontline emergency response including attending road accidents and fires, they should not be denied access to the vaccine and should never be shunted to the back of the queue.”

Under a decree announced by Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday, September 16, construction workers have until Thursday, September 23 to get at least one jab or they can’t go to work, even under the new regime for the construction industry whereby there can be no crossover between regional Victoria and metro building tradesmen and construction workers.