According to Monday’s announcement by Chris Hipkins, New Zealand’s COVID-19 response minister, personnel and employees working in the health and education sectors will be required to get their two complete doses of the vaccine in a given time frame.
Those working in the health and disability sector must have received their first dose of the COVID-19 shot by October 30 and should be fully vaccinated by December 1. Hipkins stressed that this directive applies to all “high-risk workers” such as paramedics, midwives, community health nurses, pharmacists, and general practitioners.
The COVID-19 response minister added that the coverage includes non-regulated healthcare workers like those assigned to home and community support services, Maori health providers, and aged residential care.
As for school staff and employees “who have contact with children and students,” they are required to have their first dose by November 15 and must be wholly vaccinated by January 1. He added that this also applies to home-based educators, early learning support staff, teacher-aides, contractors, maintenance, and administration staff.
Moreover, Hipkins shared that they are still determining if the same directive should apply to those connected with the tertiary education sector.
This new vaccine mandate implemented by New Zealand is in response to the rising number of test-positive cases across the country documented in the last few days. So far, 1,622 cases have been tallied, which public health officials have already deemed an outbreak.
The COVID-19 response minister explained that the vaccine mandate is primarily set to help control and eventually eliminate the current outbreak. “We can’t leave anything to chance,” he stressed. The directive is also put in place to “protect staff from getting sick and passing COVID-19 onto loved ones.”
“It’s not an easy decision,” Hipkins pointed out. “But we need the people who work with vulnerable communities who haven’t yet been vaccinated to take this extra step.”