Mayor encourages vaccinations …

… while Deputy continues fight against mandatory jab

Snowy Valleys mayor James Hayes getting his covid jab.

Mayor James Hayes is encouraging the communities of the Snowy Valleys to roll up their sleeve and get vaccinated.

As of 19 September, 78.7% of people aged 16 and over in the Snowy Valleys had received their first dose of a COVID vaccine, with 46.1% having received their second (Australian Government Dept Health figures).

“Supporting the community to get vaccinated is my priority,” Cr Hayes said.

“We’ve been incredibly fortunate so far to have avoided active cases in the Snowy Valleys. It’s imperative that we are as well fortified as we can be as a community for when the virus does eventually make its way here. That means vaccination. High vaccination rates for Snowy Valleys means that we have a strong chance at keeping our vulnerable safe and recovering quickly as a community and economy when we have active cases.

“As Mayor I continue to promote vaccination for the people of Snowy Valleys. In relation to the matter involving Councillor Larter and his personal position regarding mandatory vaccination, that does not impact on my position in encouraging vaccination in our community.

“I will continue to advocate to government to ensure that the communities of Snowy Valleys have appropriate and timely access to the vaccines – this remains a top priority.

“We’re looking at all options. We need to be as ready as we can be for when the state opens up, to ensure our most vulnerable are well protected, and the only way to do that is by lifting the vaccination rates of the Snowy Valleys,” he said.

Cr Hayes has also recognised the efforts of the local GP and pharmacist network in recent weeks mobilising to have vaccines and appointments available.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our local clinicians and pharmacists rolling out the local vaccination program; they have been working tirelessly to keep our community safe. You have and will continue to play a critical role in difficult times”.

You can book your vaccination by visiting the NSW Health Eligibility Checker or contacting your local GP or Pharmacy.

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Tumut paramedic John Larter has still not been given the reasons why his professional registration allowing him to work as a paramedic has been suspended by the Paramedicine Council of NSW. 

Mr Larter was told last week that his registration, under the Health Practioner Regulation National Law, has been suspended, pending discussion with the Health Care Complaints Commission. 

While he’s not been told why he’s been suspended, Mr Larter strongly believes its because of his stance opposing mandatory vaccinations. 

He could be waiting a month before the details of the complaint are revealed to him. The council has also not informed him who the complainants are. 

The suspension follows a virtual meeting between the council members and Mr Larter on September 17. 

He said details of a specific complaint were not put to him at that time either, though he was questioned about his stance on vaccinations.

He once more made the point that he is not anti-vaccination.

“I told them I’m simply about choice,” he said. “I also made it clear I haven’t encouraged people not to get the vaccination.” 

Mr Larter has taken the suspension in his stride. 

“I was due to turn into a pumpkin on September 30 anyway, so we’re only talking a few days,” he said, referring to the state government-issued mandate that all health workers be vaccinated by September 30, or face losing their jobs. 

He maintains people should have the right to speak their mind. 

“It’s a form of censorship,” he said. “The health service should be encouraging debate and instead they’re stifling it.” 

While, Snowy Valleys Council is encouraging people to get a vaccination, Mr Larter, who is the deputy mayor, sees no conflict with his stance. 

“The council is adopting the government position and I understand that,” Mr Larter. “I have no problem with anyone getting vaccinated. If you have co-morbidities, if you’re vulnerable, I’d encourage you to talk to your GP and have the vaccine, if that’s what you’d like to do.” 

“I just don’t believe that should be forced on people. Everyone should be able to weigh up the risk/benefits of the vaccine and make that decision for themselves. 

“My decision at this time, given the information I have and the relative good health I believe I’m in, is that the benefits don’t outweigh the risks.” 

Mr Larter’s Supreme Court case challenging the state government’s vaccination mandate for health workers is due for another mention on September 28, when it’s likely a hearing date will be set. 

Stripped of his registration by the Paramedicine Council, Mr Larter is unable to work as a paramedic, though has been offered “alternative duties” by his employer, Ambulance NSW. He said he’s weighing his options. 

Mr Larter said he had little time for the paramedicine council, which is an oversight committee dealing with complaints about registered health professionals. 

“It’s just another level of bureaucracy,” Mr Larter said. “All the board members either have links to the government or are ambulance management.”