Victoria's horse racing industry has made COVID-19 vaccinations compulsory for staff and participants, including jockeys and trainers, ahead of a likely nationwide mandate for healthcare workers.
Racing Victoria's new "no jab, no entry" policy will cover racing operations areas at Victorian racecourses on raceday, public training centres, and its headquarters and offices at Flemington.
All Victorian and interstate licensed and registered participants, as well as RV staff, will be subject to the mandate unless they have a lawful exemption.
Under the policy announced on Wednesday, they must have had their first dose by Caulfield Cup Day on October 16 and be fully vaccinated by Zipping Classic Day on November 27.
RV chief executive Giles Thompson said the deadlines may be flexible, with the body monitoring vaccine supply in the coming weeks.
The move is based on the advice of RV's chief medical office, following a risk assessment and consultation with groups such as trainers and jockeys unions, the three metropolitan clubs and Country Racing Victoria.
It is also backed by the majority of Victorian licensed and registered participants, with an anonymous survey of 1590 showing 64 per cent agreed COVID-19 vaccination should be a requirement.
Some 67 per cent of Victorian participants are already fully or partially vaccinated, while a further 15 per cent intend to get the jab and 10 per cent are still weighing it up.
Eight per cent signalled their initial desire not to be vaccinated.
Australian Trainers Association chief executive Andrew Nicholl acknowledged some would be "uncomfortable" with the decision but described it as "responsible action".
Meanwhile, St Vincent's Health Australia has announced a mandatory vaccination policy for all of its health and aged care facilities, including its Melbourne hospitals.
The health provider operates 16 public and private hospitals, and 23 aged care facilities across Victoria, NSW and Queensland, and will require "all staff, volunteers and contractors" be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Unions, peak bodies and workers will be consulted about the policy in the coming weeks to help determine a date for when it will come into effect.
St Vincent's Health Australia Group chief executive Toby Hall said more than 70 per cent of people across the organisation are already fully vaccinated.
"We see it as a complementary and logical step in the process of keeping our sites as safe as possible as Australia learns to live with COVID-19 long term," he said.
It comes as Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews revealed national cabinet is set to confirm on Friday that all healthcare workers across the country will be subject to mandatory vaccinations.
"We'll provide some time but that would only be a matter of weeks," he told reporters on Wednesday.
In addition, Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said he is open to using his public health powers to mandate COVID-19 vaccines in other settings.
"We've done it in aged care," he said.
"We're working to a mandate for healthcare workers ... there are potentially other industries that might be in the scope in that regard."
Australian Associated Press