Australian health execs, politicians float travel bans, tax penalties for COVID vaccine refusers

Australian health execs, politicians float travel bans, tax penalties for COVID vaccine refusers

Australia’s second most senior medical officer has said that denying those who refuse a coronavirus vaccine the ability to go into restaurants, travel internationally, and catch public transport will be discussed by the government.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr. Nick Coatsworth confirmed that existing policies which require Australians to “meet immunization requirements” in order for families to qualify for particular tax benefits or assistance with child care fees are likely to be utilized to encourage people to take a coronavirus vaccine. 

“I suspect the majority of Australians will get vaccinated and then there will be a strong public view that those who choose not to get vaccinated, need to, there needs to be some sort of incentive stick perhaps, through the current programs including No Jab No Pay, to make that happen,” Coatsworth said.

“Looking at specific things like not being able to go into restaurants, not being able to travel internationally, not being able to catch public transport, or more broadly, having what in the olden days would have been a yellow FIFA vaccination certificate, these are clearly policy decisions that need to, will be, discussed. But there's no current mechanism to enforce that sort of thing at the moment,” the medic continued.

Coatsworth was speaking following comments by Prime Minister Scott Morrison in the previous 24 hours. Morrison first said that a coronavirus vaccine will be made “as mandatory as you can possibly make it” before quickly walking back the comments somewhat and saying that the vaccine “is not going to be compulsory” and that “we can’t hold someone down and make them take it.”

Following Coatsworth’s press conference, Australian health minister Greg Hunt also confirmed the likelihood of denying family tax benefits and child care assistance to those who do not take the coronavirus vaccine. Hunt also refused to rule out placing restrictions on individuals.

The Chief Health Officer for New South Wales, of which Sydney is the capital, said that restricting access to certain places is a way that vaccines have been encouraged in the past in Australia.

“We sometimes take policies around preventing certain groups of people from entering facilities if they’re not vaccinated and they’re usually taken to protect the most vulnerable,” Chant said

Chant also confirmed that there are plans to administer the coronavirus vaccine to children.