LOCKWOOD'S Hazeldene Chicken Farm's staff are closing in on an 80 per cent vaccination rate a year after a COVID-19 outbreak erupted there.
It currently boasts a 70 per cent full vaccination rate among its 840-odd workers.
Premier Daniel Andrews wants 60 per cent of Victorians vaccinated by the end of September during a push revealed last Friday.
The state would still be lagging far behind Hazeldene's, where another 10 per cent of its Lockwood workforce are expected to get the jab on the very first day of September.
The figures have been released as many Australian employers consider the merits of mandatory vaccinations to help protect themselves and employees from the chaos that outbreaks can bring.
Just over a week ago Shepparton food group SPC announced many staff would need to be vaccinated.
Multiple Bendigo organisations including Hazeldene's have since confirmed they have not mandated workers get vaccinated and a behavioural expert has said there is good reason to avoid such a "harsh" approach.
"If it's mandatory there's got to be repercussions if people don't take it, so there will be punishments for people who don't take vaccinations," the RMIT's Meg Elkins said.
"When people get to the point where they are punished, that's the tricky bit.
"It's taking away that chance to have good will towards the company and there might be resentment there. We lose that implicit motivation to do good."
Dr Elkins encouraged companies to look for ways to enlist workers "nudges" like opt-out appointments when everything was organised for them.
Hazeldene's high levels of vaccination rate came after Bendigo Health visited its Lockwood site through an outreach program aimed at vaccinating key industries and employees, chief executive Mark Heintz said.
"We're grateful for the support of Bendigo Health in making sure vaccinations were available to us - their outreach activities are a fantastic way of making vaccination accessible to our industry," Mr Heintz said.
Vaccinations are about more than returning to a pre-pandemic normal for Hazeldene's.
The business was among many in the meat sector that was hit by COVID-19 outbreaks in 2020 in a period when the wider food supply was coming under threat.
Hazeldene's was among businesses juggling shut downs for deep cleaning at its meat works sites across Victoria.
It spent that August dealing with a Lockwood site cluster that grew to nearly 40 workers and close contacts, at its height.
The state's health department said at the time that the business had taken considerable steps to prepare for any outbreak and acted swiftly and Mr Heintz responded to social media rumours suggesting it had not followed authorities' directions.
"At Hazeldene's, we would do nothing to jeopardise the wellbeing of our staff or the efforts to bring this pandemic under control," he said at the time.
It and Bendigo Health partnered to roll out some of the first large scale saliva testing programs in the industry.
By October, Victorian health authorities were expanding the testing regime to companies across Victoria.
Hazeldene's also introduced heightened security measures, including limiting visitor access to facilities.
Mr Heintz said seeing so many employees getting vaccinated was extremely pleasing.
"It is so important that Australians get vaccinated and I'm so proud that Hazeldene's employees have made that commitment to their health, and to the health and safety of others in the community," he said.
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