Members of New Zealand’s education and health and disability workforces will be required to be vaccinated under new rules announced this afternoon by COVID-19 Response Minister, Chris Hipkins.
“Our education and health and disability workforces have done an incredible job throughout this pandemic to keep themselves and people safe,” Mr Hipkins said.
“Vaccination remains our strongest and most effective tool to protect against infection and disease, and we need as many workers as possible to be vaccinated to allow sectors to respond to the pandemic and deliver everyday services with as little disruption as possible.
“While most people working in these sectors are already fully or partially vaccinated we can’t leave anything to chance and are making it mandatory.
”It’s not an easy decision, but we need the people who work with vulnerable communities who haven’t yet been vaccinated to take this extra step.”
Vaccinations for children aged 5 to 11 are not yet approved and the health and disability sector includes a range of high risk occupations, the Minister said.
“People have a reasonable expectation that our work forces are taking all reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of disease, and government agencies have been working with them to ensure they are as protected as possible.
“A high rate of vaccinations will help to protect staff from getting sick and passing COVID-19 onto loved ones. It will also reassure those who are anxious about their children attending school and early learning services.”
Exemptions may be possible under some circumstances, he said.
Health and Disability sector
The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 will be updated to require anyone conducting high-risk work in the health and disability sector to be fully vaccinated by 1 December, 2021.
“Under these new requirements, general practitioners, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics, and all healthcare workers in sites where vulnerable patients are treated (including Intensive Care Units) must receive their first dose of the vaccine by 30th October,” said Mr Hipkins.
“These requirements also include certain non-regulated healthcare work, such as aged residential care, home and community support services, kaupapa Māori health providers and Non-Government Organisations who provide health services.”
The full list will be provided in the next few days, the Minister said.
“From 1 January, 2022, schools and early learning services and providers will need to maintain a register, and ensure only vaccinated staff and support people have contact with children and students. They need to have their first dose by 15 November,” Mr Hipkins said.
“This includes home-based educators, and all those support people in our schools and early learning services such as teacher-aides, administration and maintenance staff and contractors.”
“Secondary schools and kura will also be required to keep a COVID-19 vaccination register for students. Students that do not produce evidence of vaccination will be considered unvaccinated.”
All school employees in Auckland and other Alert Level 3 regions will be required to return a negative COVID-19 test result before they can return to work onsite, Mr Hipkins confirmed.
“Those who are not fully vaccinated in the period leading up to 1 January 2022, will also be required to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing.”
“Work is continuing on whether mandatory vaccinations will be required in the tertiary education sector,” he said.