âThese three things are crucial and essential. For those who travel in the community and depend on these essential services, as opposed to those who can work from home, it logically makes sense to vaccinate or at least offer them. “
John Stanton, chief executive of the Communications Alliance telecommunications representative group, said field and operations personnel required to repair and install equipment, including those in nursing homes, should have early access to the vaccine.
“We have campaigned – with a clear lack of success – to ensure that appropriate telecommunications personnel are given appropriate priority for COVID-19 vaccination,” said Stanton.
He said telecommunications services are vital, especially as more people work and study from home.
Australian Retailers Association chairman Paul Zahra has also told the federal government to prioritize those frontline retail workers who keep grocery stores stocked despite panic buying.
“Retail workers have stayed at the forefront of the COVID workforce – often being Australians, the only point of interaction outside of the home during lockdowns and restrictions,” said Mr. Zahra.
An analysis by the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association earlier this week found that 91 percent of casual contracts in the Fairfield, Liverpool, and Canterbury-Bankstown neighborhoods of Sydney were in stores or malls, along with 55 percent of close contacts.
“The NSW government must offer priority vaccination to retail workers to protect their health and that of the wider population,” said union secretary Bernie Smith.
CEPU National Telecommunications, Postal and Broadband Union Secretary Greg Rayner and National President Shane Murphy recently sent a letter to Secretary of Health Greg Hunt asking postal workers, mail sorters and technicians from the National Broadband Network for quick access to the vaccine.
“There are only a few categories of workers who need to have such a diverse public interaction in the context of their duties as compared to our members,” they said.
Laurie D’Apice, secretary and treasurer of the Australian road transport industry organization NSW, said “every driver”, including those on long haul journeys and short haul deliveries, is at risk of COVID and should be considered for early vaccination.
“They go in and out of red zones all the time, so to me they were real heroes,” said Mr D’Apice. “I’m not saying they are first responders, but they should certainly have some priority when it comes to vaccines.”
Brian Seidler, executive director of Master Builders NSW, said the industry supports prioritizing its construction workers.