The Health Department estimates that 13 per cent of its 16,000-strong workforce could still be unvaccinated just 11 days out from a deadline that would see them instantly sacked unless they get the jab or book an appointment.
Department secretary Kathrine Morgan-Wicks provided an update on the mandatory vaccination of healthcare workers on Wednesday.
Almost 70 per cent have provided proof of vaccination, and payroll data indicates that 87 per cent were likely to be vaccinated but were waiting on evidence from a GP or pharmacist. From October 31, they will no longer be able to earn income or enter a healthcare setting unvaccinated, with some exemptions.
The department has deployed "teams" within hospitals and other healthcare settings to provide information to unvaccinated staff, and have set up "kiosks".
The entirety of the 7000-strong aged care workforce was vaccinated as a result of a mandate, however.
Ms Morgan-Wicks said the aged care rollout came down to the final days, and she expected the same thing to happen with healthcare workers.
"What we saw with the aged care mandatory vaccination roll out, that did come down to that last 24 hours, for a small proportion of the aged care workers," she said.
"I do anticipate that it'll be down to the wire to the 30th of October."
North-West nurse issues personal plea to get vaccinated
A North-West nurse who contracted COVID-19 during the outbreak last year has highlighted the ongoing effects of "long COVID" and how her life has changed dramatically.
She provided her story to Ms Morgan-Wicks on the weekend in an attempt to encourage other healthcare workers to get vaccinated.
"COVID changed my life so much that some days I don't recognise myself," the nurse in her 50s wrote.
"I have fatigue like I have never experienced before.
"It's nothing like being tired. When you're tired, you have a good sleep and you feel better. I never feel better.
"I have constant headaches, and it makes me feel like my head's being crushed. I have heart issues, a coronary stint, blood pressure and heart rate I can't control, joint pain and swelling on a daily basis, nerve pain that makes my skin feel like it's burning."
One of the earliest symptoms of COVID-19 was identified as a loss of taste and smell, which the nurse said had become debilitating.
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"When you lose these senses that you take for granted, you realise the danger you have put yourself in. I can't smell smoke, gas, gas leaks or if food is off," she said.
"Picture going through life and you can't taste chocolate, coffee, beer or any of your favourite foods.
"All you're doing is eating and drinking to stay alive.
"There is no pleasure in anything you eat or drink anymore."
What could happen from October 31?
Casual and part-time healthcare workers would be sacked on the spot, and permanent staff stood down without pay while the termination process ran its course.
It could leave the health system instantly down hundreds of staff, depending on the uptake rate in the final 11 days.
Ms Morgan-Wicks reiterated the policy on Wednesday, and said it was preferable to what occurred in Victoria or NSW when COVID outbreaks happened in the health system.
"What will be devastating is if we don't actually have a vaccinated workforce that can work to keep our beds and hospitals open," she said.
"If I have to furlough hundreds of workers like what we've seen in Victoria and NSW when we have COVID in our community, that will be far more devastating for our hospitals and healthcare."
The Health Department is carrying out "continuous recruitment", with COVID vaccination a requirement for all new staff.
"We have hundreds of jobs that are available on our Tas Jobs website," Ms Morgan-Wicks said.
"I have instructed our managers to rank as many people as possible so that we have that ready pool to call upon."
Premier Peter Gutwein said "contingency plans" were being put in place should large-scale sackings occur, including attempting to recruit from NSW and Victoria.
Nurses fear double-shift, overtime if workforce levels plummet
Tasmania's health system is already facing significant demand at current staffing levels, prompting the Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation to urge the government to put in place improved contingency plans.
ANMF Tasmania secretary Emily Shepherd said workforce pressures would be unbearable should hundreds of healthcare workers leave the system from October 31, and she had concerns for healthcare continuity.
"From a workload consideration and a safety consideration, for our members, come October 31 we wouldn't want to see contingency being that nurses and midwives have to do more overtime and double shifts," she said.
The ANMF has foreshadowed lodging another application with the Tasmanian Industrial Commission should any ward units or other workplaces see "onerous workloads and double shifts" from November.
Ms Shepherd said it would be "unlikely" that additional recruited nurses before October 31 would be ready to take on a full workload, let alone an expected increased workload.
The ANMF is continuing to call for more flexibility in the policy that could allow for unvaccinated healthcare workers to be redeployed to non-front-facing roles.
The department is believed to be receiving large batches of vaccination notifications at a time, which Ms Shepherd hoped would continue over the coming 11 days.
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