Supermarket workers in Sydney have finally been recognised for the essential workers they are, and as such, those who live and work in COVID hotspots will be eligible to get the Pfizer vaccine from Wednesday.
Workers at stores including Coles, Woolies, Aldi and IGA will all have access to the Pfizer vaccine regardless of their age. This will apply to people in the five hotspot LGAs of Fairfield, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland and Blacktown.
“We are very keen to provide access to those critical workers that are required to keep Sydney running,” NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said.
“They do a lot of the work in distribution centres, food, logistics, transport.”
Warehouse workers will be included in the move, and pop-up clinics are even set to be established at Woolworths distribution centres in Yennora, Minchinbury and Lidcombe.
@SDAunion supermarket workers in Sydney’s 5 locked down LGA’s & Supermarket DC workers have just won priority access to Pfizer vaccines! Recognition they are essential workers after @SDAunion campaign. Next access for all supermarket workers. #ausunions #auspol pic.twitter.com/H0OIywM9C1
— Bernie Smith (@BernieSmith16) July 26, 2021
Anyone who’s tried to book a Pfizer appointment at the Olympic Park megaclinic will tell you that it’s fully booked for months.
Luckily, these supermarket workers will be able to take advantage of new 500 priority appointments per day.
While everyone has welcomed increased vaccinations, the response from unions about how the rollout has been handled for workers has been mixed.
SDA NSW Branch Secretary Bernie Smith told News Corp that “as the lockdown tightens, we know that grocery store workers will keep having to go to work.”
However the Retail and Fast Food Workers Union (RAFFWU) actually called out the government for being too late to even do the bare minimum when it comes to protecting vulnerable supermarket workers.
“Employers like Coles and Woolworths were woefully late in providing extra security at the height of panic buying, getting social distancing in place and providing PPE. For months Coles even gave workers and customers an ineffective non-alcohol based hand rub,” RAFFWU Secretary Josh Cullinan told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
“All year we have seen the Federal Government – and the NSW Government – utterly fail retail workers by totally screwing up the vaccine rollout. Those screwups who were first to get vaccinated and first to sit poolside during lockdowns couldn’t care one iota for the health and safety of essential supermarket workers.
“We need mass vaccination now. Finally allowing access to supermarket workers in a small part of Sydney is simply not enough. We need all essential workers prioritised immediately, properly paid pandemic leave and special vaccination hubs established.”
It’s about bloody time vaccines were made available to those who need them the most. It’s just a shame it took a whole damn lockdown for authorities to finally swing into action.
Alternatively, you can triple-check to see if you’re eligible for the Pfizer vaccine here.
The best vaccine is the first one you can get, and that’ll be our ticket out of this mess.