Woolworths will set up pop-up vaccination clinics at distribution centres in south-west Sydney to help its workers receive COVID inoculations.
In a statement on Friday afternoon, Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci said the supermarket was advocating for all workers to be vaccinated “as soon as possible” amid Sydney’s runaway coronavirus outbreak.
“It is now clear that accelerating the rate of vaccination in Australia is key to protecting our communities and loved ones and the easing of restrictions,” Mr Banducci said in a statement emailed to staff.
“It is also essential to ensuring our teams are able to continue to provide food to Australian communities.”
In-store Woolworths staff within five local government areas in Sydney will also get early appointments at the Homebush vaccination centre in a partnership with the NSW government, Mr Banducci said.
“These are important steps in helping protect our team so they can continue to provide food for all Australians,” he said.
Woolworths’ workers will be vaccinated in a “highly targeted” health campaign being run across western Sydney for essential food workers that will also include workers at Coles, IGA, Aldi and Foodworks supermarkets.
The targeted areas are Blacktown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield and Liverpool.
The vaccination centres will not be open to the public, Woolworths has confirmed.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and COVID-10 taskforce chief Lietenant-General John Frewen met corporate leaders, including Mr Banducci, three weeks ago to work out how businesses could help with vaccines.
Australia’s vaccine rollout is among the slowest in the OECD, with just 14 per cent of the population currently fully inoculated against COVID.
Essential workplaces like supermarkets have been hotbeds for infection throughout the pandemic and have been regularly listed as exposure sites by health authorities in NSW during the most recent outbreak in Sydney.
Woolworths is also providing up to eight hours of paid leave for full-time and part-time staff to get vaccinated, but has left out casuals.
It joins other businesses such as property website Domain and buy-now, pay-later company Zip Co in offering such leave.
Mr Banducci also told customers he has now received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine on Friday.