ACT Health to bring Pfizer to parliament's unvaccinated, no booking required

Parliament House introduced additional COVID social distancing restrictions in the last sitting period, but has not mandated vaccines. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos
Parliament House introduced additional COVID social distancing restrictions in the last sitting period, but has not mandated vaccines. Picture: Dion Georgopoulos

If federal politicians, their staff and other parliamentary workers won't organise their own COVID-19 vaccination before the October sitting period and estimates hearings, then Pfizer jabs will come to them.

After ACT Health told parliament's travelling cohort they will need to quarantine on arrival if not already vaccinated, creating a two-tier system for MPs, those already here and parliament's permanent workforce based in Canberra will have access to a walk-in vaccination hub.

The ACT Health hub will run on Monday, October 11 inside Parliament House with a follow-up hub three weeks later for the second dose.

While walk-in jabs will be accepted, bookings are encouraged. Building occupants are asked to bring ID and their Medicare card.

Pfizer vaccinations, which have the shortest recommended gap between first and second doses, will be offered to all building occupants not already vaccinated; or those who have had one only Pfizer dose.

The offer is open to members of parliament's press gallery, officials and other staff who support the functioning of parliament.

In the ACT, 96.0 per cent of eligible residents have received a first dose of the COVID vaccine, the highest of any jurisdiction in Australia. The latest figures via ACT Health show 67.2 per cent have received a second dose, behind only NSW, which reached 70 per cent on Wednesday.

Federal Parliament is due to return on October 18 for a fortnight of sittings, which includes a week of budget estimates hearings and the formal election of a new Senate president to replace Scott Ryan.

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Canberra's lockdown is set to lift on October 15, meaning restaurants and bars will be open at reduced capacity in time for the start of the sitting period.

Earlier on Thursday, a spokeswoman for ACT Health confirmed to the Canberra Times if a fully vaccinated person arrived from an area with active cases, the risk assessment would be based on their movement in the community over the previous fortnight. Whether they had been in contact with a positive case or attended an exposure site would be factored in, she said.

Politicians and staffers would be required to adhere to the terms of their exemptions, meaning even those able to skip quarantine would be barred from entering hospitality venues.

The spokeswoman said the new guidelines were being trialled as part of an "evolving process" around assessing and reviewing travel arrangements as Canberra starts to reopen.

All other travellers from NSW and Victoria require a permit to enter the ACT and are required to isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

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This story Unvaccinated MPs, staffers can receive jab at Parliament House without booking first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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