Letter to the Chief Health Officer

Dr. Andrew Robertson 
WA Chief Health Officer Department of Health 
189 Royal Street 
East Perth WA 6004 

3rd February 2022 

Dear Dr. Robertson, 

NOVAVAX VACCINATED STAFF AT THE SWAN CHRISTIAN EDUCATION ASSOCIATION 

Since the introduction of the vaccination mandate in Western Australia it has become clear that a significant number of our staff members are not prepared to be vaccinated with the Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna options currently available, but are committed to receiving Novavax. We have very few staff, if any, who are anti-vaccination. It is a concern to us that while the Hon Greg Hunt MP has announced that Novavax will be available in Australia from 21st February 2022, at this stage there is no Novavax Booster available. In order to reduce any further loss of staff from our organization, and others throughout WA, we request that one of the following options be considered by the WA Government: 

1. Introduce a Novavax Booster as soon as regulatory approval for this is available, or 

2. Exempt those who receive two doses of Novavax from requiring a booster. 

The Swan Christian Education Association has seven schools across eight campuses, educating 4350 students and employing 615 permanent staff members. Since the introduction of the vaccination mandate, 35 staff (10 teachers and 25 non-teachers) have chosen not to be vaccinated with the options currently available and have now concluded their tenure with us. A further eight staff have accessed their Long Service Leave in the hope that Novavax would soon become available, and after being vaccinated with it, they could return to work. The impact on our schools has been significant. We have lost far too many quality staff. It is also worth highlighting that 80% of those who have chosen to leave are female, which is deeply concerning – particularly given our collective commitment to the participation of women in the workforce and celebrating their contribution. 

If one of the options requested above were to be adopted, the staff who have left us would be in a position to return into currently vacant positions and those that we expect to arise in the months ahead. 

Other WA based schools and systems like ours have been impacted in a similar way and are now facing significant recruitment challenges. We also expect this will be exacerbated as the COVID 19 caseload increases in WA and the need to call on relief staff to fill temporary vacancies in our schools increases. When this occurs, we will need as many teachers and support staff as possible and would value having access to those who have opted for and received the Novavax vaccine. 

The main reason many of these staff members have a preference to access Novavax is because it, as far as they understand based on medical advice, uses recombinant DNA technology, which is much the same as the Hepatitis B vaccine and has been around for 30 years – and there are almost zero known side effects from the Hep B vaccine. For this reason, it is viewed as being a safe and preferred alternative – particularly for our young ladies who are hoping to have children in the years ahead. For a small number of staff who are waiting for Novavax, the ethical issues around the use of fetal stem cells in the development of mRNA vaccines has also impacted their decision making. 

I hope that this request can be given careful consideration. 

A copy of this letter has been sent to the Minister for Education and the Executive Director of the Association of Independent Schools WA, so that they are also aware of this issue and the challenges we face. 

Yours sincerely, 

Dr. Graeme Cross 
Chief Executive Officer 

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