Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) statement on vaccinating and testing quarantine workers
A statement from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) on vaccinating and testing quarantine workers.
Managed quarantine for international arrivals continues to play a vital role in Australia’s public health response to COVID-19. Through the Continuous Improvement Framework, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) regularly consider lessons learned in managed quarantine including the outcomes of evaluations, audits and reviews.
This supports a process of continuous quality improvement in line with the National Principles for Managed Quarantine (the Principles).
Protecting quarantine workers is an essential part of reducing the risk of transmission and incursion into the community. The primary mechanisms through which this can be achieved is vaccinating all quarantine workers and undertaking regular routine testing of workers to identify transmission events should they occur.
All quarantine workers and their household contacts are eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.
As outlined in the Principles, all quarantine workers should be strongly encouraged to undergo vaccination, and jurisdictions may implement requirements for quarantine workers to receive vaccinations. This includes those directly employed in quarantine facilities under Commonwealth, state or private arrangements. Importantly, this also includes anyone who works in a red zone*. Given recent incursions, Delta variants and the current epidemiology of clusters occuring around Australia,the AHPPC recommends mandatory vaccination for all quarantine workers.
In November 2020, the AHPPC recommended regular testing of quarantine workers.
In response to the increasing risk posed by Variants of Concern, since February 2021, daily testing of quarantine workers has been implemented nationally. However, to date this has been limited to those directly involved in managed quarantine programs.
In response to lessons learned from recent transmission events, current epidemiology and discussion through the Continuous Improvement Framework, the AHPPC recommends extending this requirement to all workers directly and indirectly involved in managed quarantine. This includes workers involved in transport of quarantined individuals.
In circumstances where individuals briefly and indirectly work with quarantine programs
(e.g. one time drivers), existing requirements for testing following employment in the managed quarantine program should apply.
The AHPPC will continue to apply the lessons learned through the Continuous Improvement Framework to strengthen managed quarantine arrangements.
*A red zone is defined as a place of high infection risk related to the international border.