Australia

Women’s and Children’s Hospital reveals number of unvaccinated staff, protesters gather in Adelaide CBD

It has been revealed that 133 staff at Adelaide’s Women’s and Children’s Hospital have refused to get vaccinated and are now taking forced leave.

All frontline and allied health workers, cleaners and admin staff at South Australian public and private hospitals must now provide proof of at least one COVID-19 vaccine to continue working.

The mandatory vaccination direction came into effect yesterday, but hundreds of staff across the health system have not met the deadline.

Over the past week the ABC has repeatedly asked SA Health to provide the exact number of unvaccinated staff across the health system, but that data has not been provided.

On Tuesday, Women’s and Children’s Hospital CEO Lindsay Gough confirmed that at her hospital alone 133 people had not been vaccinated. 

She said the staff worked in a range of roles and some were on maternity leave.

“I am not aware of any doctors who have turned down vaccines, but as I say it’s not across any particular area,” Ms Gough said. 

Health Minister Stephen Wade on Tuesday again refused to provide the number of workers refusing to be vaccinated across the health system. 

“I don’t have that number, but let me make it clear, a substantial number would not be presenting today,” Mr Wade said. 

“I am told there are no issues in terms of clinical service delivery. In terms of the number of people who are not vaccinated, we can get back to you with that information.

“Certainly I will ask SA Health to get back to you with data.” 

Yesterday SA Health revealed the percentage of staff that are vaccinated, but that does not account for staff on maternity or long-term leave.

Large crowd of protesters rally in the city

A woman holding a sign
Nurse and Crows AFLW player Deni Varnhagen was among the protestors. (ABC News)

Crows AFLW footballer Deni Varnhagen, who is also a nurse, was among dozens of people who rallied in the city this afternoon protesting against mandatory vaccination.

“We are all just here for freedom of choice basically, we all deserve the right to decide what we put into our bodies,” Ms Varnhagen said. 

“Coercion is not consent. We shouldn’t be losing our jobs or even be forced. 

“I wish I was at work caring for people, doing the things that I’m good at.” 

People protesting holding signs
SA Health staff have been put on forced leave if they have not received a COVID-19 vaccine.(ABC News)

Fellow protester and registered nurse Rhiannon Bailetti said she had lost her job as a result of not being vaccinated.

“I don’t have a job, I’m building a house, I’m probably going to have to pull the pin on my house,” she said.

“Freedom of choice. If we don’t have that, nothing else matters. So I’m standing here today for all of those things … stand up for healthcare, for nursing, our rights, the basis of what we practise.” 

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