Anti-vax sentiment could cost WA 39,000 workers, $2.9b

WA businesses stand to lose about 39,000 workers who are subject to mandatory vaccination requirements, costing the economy $2.9 billion, according to a new CCIWA analysis of anti-vaccination sentiment within the WA workforce.

The analysis, drawn from pre-release CCIWA Consumer Confidence Survey responses, found 3.7 per cent of WA respondents in the labour force do not intend to receive a COVID vaccination “under any circumstances”, representing about 55,000 workers.

Of those, the survey data indicated about 39,000 are subject to mandatory vaccines in the workplace.

A further 4.8 per cent of workers were “still considering” whether to get a COVID vaccine.

“The withdrawal of approximately 39,000 employees from the WA workforce due to their unwillingness to be vaccinated for COVID would represent a loss of around $2.9 billion in productive work from the WA economy,” the analysis found.

  • Based on these results, the average large WA business (employing 1,090 people) is likely to have 523 workers who remain undecided about the vaccine. They might expect to lose 44 employees from their workforce due to total anti-vaccine views.
  • The average medium-sized WA business (employing 49 people) is likely to have two workers who remain undecided and might expect to lose two workers, due to their anti-vaccine stance.
  • Among the 177,000 West Australians employed by small businesses (as at end of June 2020), survey results suggest that approximately 6,550 are totally anti-vaccine.

Read more: Implementing a vaccination policy

Among measures that businesses might be able to undertake to lift vaccinations in their workforce, respondents reflected the following activities might persuade them to be vaccinated:

  • Being provided with “trustworthy” information that COVID vaccination is safe (+74%)
  • Being paid a financial incentive to be vaccinated (+66%)
  • Having an occupation added to the mandatory vaccination list (+49%)
  • Being excluded from their workplace (+39%)
  • Being required to wear a face mask (+38%)

Read more: Getting vaccine-ready in case of a lockdown

Among further measures Governments might undertake, respondents reflected how likely these were to persuade them to be vaccinated: 

  • Being excluded from shopping centres, cafes, restaurants and bars (+57%)
  • Being prohibited from visiting regional WA (+49%)
  • Being excluded from schools, childcare centres and tertiary education (+39%)
  • Interstate travel being restored for vaccinated residents (+27%)
  • Interstate travel being restored for vaccinated residents (+22%)

The only other factor identified was an outbreak of COVID-19 in WA (+27%).

CCIWA Chief Economist Aaron Morey said the results were intended to help inform businesses with planning workforce impacts on their own workforce, as well as suppliers, contractors and other partners.

“We hope the data can be of assistance to businesses in preparing to manage your workforce through the State Government’s upcoming vaccination deadlines,” he said.

For advice on vaccinations and the workplace contact CCIWA’s Workplace Relations team on 1300 422 492 or via [email protected].

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