Business wins greenlight to promote COVID vaccine to staff, clients

As Melbourne prepares to emerge from another lockdown, the federal government is pulling out all stops to decrease COVID vaccine hesitancy with the rules around promoting the vaccine and incentivising employees and customers to get the jabs now relaxed.

Under changes announced by the federal government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), businesses can now promote the COVID vaccine and offer incentives for doing so. To find out more about how it works, please click here.

The incentives can be monetary and include paid time off work to be vaccinated, payment for taxis or Ubers to attend a vaccine centre, as well as gift vouchers and discounts in exchange for being fully vaccinated under the national COVID-19 vaccination program.

It is important to note that rewards such as alcohol, tobacco or medicines (other than listed medicines) are not permitted. It is also a requirement that rewards and incentives are only given when two doses of the jab have been given under the rules governing the national COVID-19 vaccination program.

Rules on COVID vaccine promotion

There are a number of rules governing how the promotion and incentivisation of COVID vaccination should be done to ensure public health is maintained. To help business owners navigate this new rule change, The Real Media Collective has provided some advice by GM – IR, Governance and Policy, Charles Watson.

covid vaccine
The Real Media Collective general manager of industry relations, policy and governance Charles Watson

Watson told Sprinter under the new rules, companies cannot discriminate against an employee who chooses not to have the jab, but it does open the door to allow business to more openly promote the vaccine among staff and customers.

He says businesses can now supplement government public health campaigns through offers of practical support and rewards that encourage Australians to be vaccinated. This means organisations can generate their own informational materials to support COVID-19 vaccination, provided the content is consistent with Government messaging and does not contain:

  • references to specific brands of vaccines, or compare different COVID-19 vaccines
  • statements that COVID-19 vaccines cannot cause harm or have no side effects
  • any statement that is false or misleading
  • promotion of any vaccine that has not been approved by the TGA.

“As long as they comply with the requirements, it does give some assurance to employers in our industry and their clients that they can promote the idea of being vaccinated without breaching the various pieces of legislation that the Therapeutic Goods Administration handle,” Watson told Sprinter.

“Earlier this year when companies were talking about available vaccines there was concern about whether or not we they tell an employee that they have got to get it or do they just say nothing. These amendments allow them to promote the idea of being vaccinated. They still can’t enforce the vaccine, but they can at least the promote the idea of it.”

Printers in the communication box seat

Printers are in a unique position to help their customers also communicate the new COVID incentive measures, as well as benefit from them themselves.

The Real Media Collective CEO Kellie Northwood says printers should consider offering clients assistance with the creation, provision and distribution of related promotional materials for their businesses.

covid vaccine
The Real Media Collective chief executive officer Kellie Northwood

But she also points out printers should question clients as to their compliance with the TGA requirements (outlined above) in those materials and campaigns.

“Should members wish to implement such promotions and or rewards in their own workplaces, care should be taken so as to comply with the outlined requirements and be factual and ensure those employees who chose not to be vaccinated are not criticised or discriminated against for their decision,” Northwood said.

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