Saturday, April 13, 2024

Vaccinator workforce call to arms

Retired and overseas-trained health professionals and the wider health workforce can now join New Zealand’s expanding vaccinator workforce, COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced today. 

The Government has changed Medicines Regulations to allow more health workers to be trained to give vaccinations – to lend a hand as we move to the next phase the biggest vaccination campaign in New Zealand’s history.

“We’re calling on retired nurses, people who have trained overseas but are not registered here, and those in the kaiāwhina workforce – who work in our health system already in roles such as healthcare assistants – to join our vaccinator team,” Mr Hipkins said.

“More than 12,500 people with a wide range of backgrounds, including many ex health professionals, have already logged their details in the Hands-Up database, which is designed to capture a broad range of skills and backgrounds for different roles.

“We anticipate many of the former health professionals who have entered their details into Hands-Up will be keen to become involved in the vaccination programme.

“DHBs have been following up with potential candidates to bring people on board as we scale up the vaccination programme.

“Others urged to join in can enrol through the database www.health.govt.nz/HandsUp Registrations can be completed in English, Te Reo Māori, Samoan and Tongan.

“The change will also allow us to boost the numbers of Māori and Pacific vaccinators. It also provides these new vaccinators with enhanced career opportunities in the health sector.”

He said the Immunisation Advisory Centre had trained more than 8,100 COVID-19 vaccinators from across the health sector since the beginning of the year.

“This influx of health workers will boost both these numbers and the diversity of the workforce.”

“All new recruits will receive training through the Immunisation Advisory Centre and will work under the supervision and direction of registered health practitioners.

“They will also be trained in basic emergency techniques, including resuscitation and treatment of anaphylaxis. This is required for anyone administering medicines across the health workforce.

“Current projections are that we will need 1,600 full-time equivalent vaccinators at the peak of the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out. This means we will likely need between 6,000 to 6,500 people vaccinating in part or full time roles.”

Meanwhile, 12 kaiāwhina from Tūranga Health, an Iwi health provider in Gisborne, have become the first to complete the face-to-face training to become COVID-19 vaccinators from this new workforce.

“This group of vaccinators are from a broad range of roles and backgrounds and are excited to learn new skills to support the COVID-19 vaccination rollout in protecting whānau in Tūranga-nui-a-Kiwa and surrounding areas. They are a welcome addition to Tūranga Health’s 14 vaccinators,” said Mr Hipkins.

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