Last week’s State Government announcement that roughly 75 per cent of WA’s workforce would need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 or find another job quickly shook many people who found themselves among those occupations needing to get the jab. Border control staff, abattoir workers and prison guards are among the Group 1 workers required to be fully vaccinated by December 31. Among the Group 2 occupations are teachers, port workers, ride-share drivers and funeral services workers, who must have a first dose by December 31 and be fully vaccinated by January 31. Premier Mark McGowan’s vaccine mandate may have come as a shock to some, but the move was welcomed by occupational groups who have long campaigned for the same protections as health workers. Funeral director at William Barrett & Sons and president of the Australian Funeral Directors Association, Adrian Barrett, said he welcomed the mandate. Mr Barrett said there was a high risk of infection and transmission due to the nature of funerals. “People are hugging and kissing and giving each other support, which is why we do what we do, but at the same time it does make funerals a high-risk environment if COVID is spreading in the community,” he said. Mr Barrett said collecting a person’s remains from a hospital or nursing home put staff in contact with vulnerable community members and frontline health workers, so reducing the risk of transmission was the key. “Vaccination is one of the tools we have available, a very important tool at reducing community transmission, so it’s very important for our team to be vaccinated,” he said. Based on the mandates active in other States he oversees as association president, Mr Barrett communicated the potential for a WA mandate early on. Of the 60 company staff across the William Barrett & Sons offices in Bunbury, Busselton and Harvey, only five workers were yet to receive their jab. “When you’ve been working in funerals for a period of time, one thing you realise is that life is finite and unexpected things can happen at any time, and people’s worlds can be destroyed in an instant,” Mr Barrett said. “Knowing and seeing the outcomes of tragic events everyday does give you a bit of a perspective that we should do what we can to be safe, for our loved ones and families. Life is precious.” Southern Port Authority regional manager in Bunbury, Lee Smith, said his organisation was compliant with all the State Government directives regarding COVID-19 and the maritime industry. “Southern Ports is 100 per cent compliant with State Government vaccination directions and will continue to be so,” Mr Smith said. “We are encouraging and supporting our entire workforce to get vaccinated to meet the Government’s published dates.” Ride-share operator Uber is also encouraging its drivers to follow the WA mandate. “We continue to follow government guidelines as restrictions change across each State, and provide regular updates and advice from public health authorities to driver-partners,” a spokesperson said. “We are always working to help keep everyone who uses the Uber platform safe and we will continue to update driver-partners on government advice and support available.” About 74 per cent of WA’s eligible population has received at least one dose of a COVID vaccine and 55 per cent are fully vaccinated.