In a statement this week NatRoad raised an important topic for debate, should vaccination be mandatory for truck drivers? This is a loaded question and one which brings into play many conflicting issues, the trucking industry is going to have to think long and hard about this whole area.
It is one of those issues where the decision makers have to balance a number considerations and also ensure they do not unnecessarily impinge on the rights of truck drivers. Vaccinations are required for people working in health related areas and those in aged care. This is a no-brainer, the duty of care is squarely on protecting patients and elderly residents from the Covid-19 virus.
The transport industry is a different matter, the new sets of practices brought in at points where truck drivers interface with warehouse staff and other points of contact have proved to be relatively effective. Trucks have remained on the road, delivering and collecting freight, keeping to wheels of the economy turning, without causing a widespread infection issue.
On the other hand, there are thousands of truck drivers travelling all over Australia, moving in and out of outbreak black spots. There is a real risk of the virus spreading into other areas with a truck driver as the cause of another outbreak.
Of course, getting all truck drivers vaccinated will mitigate the risk they pose to the community, but the case has not been made that there is enough of a risk of this happening to create a situation where vaccinations should be mandatory under the law.
Because of these competing considerations, we can expect the resulting landscape to be a neither one thing or the other. Most drivers will be getting vaccinated, as a personal decision, and others who are against the vaccination will be able to continue working even though they pose a threat to the community at large.
This is where the trucking industry needs to bring to bear the sort of camaraderie and consensus it can do so well in tough situations. Perhaps we need to phrase the question a little differently.
We are not asking you to get a covid jab for your own well being, we are asking you to get it done for the overall health of the community to which you, as a truck driver, pose a threat, purely because of the nature of the travelling involved with doing your job. It’s nobody’s fault, but surely we need to minimise any risks in these difficult times?