Saturday, December 4

Mandatory vaccinations announced for health and education workers

School personnel working with children and students must be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, who is also Minister of Education.
Photo: Pool / Things / Robert Kitchin

The cabinet has also taken steps to require vaccination of high-risk workers in the health and disability sector by the earlier date of December 1, 2021.

Those high-risk workers include general practitioners, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics, and all health workers at sites where vulnerable patients are treated.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the new requirements also cover people who work in nursing homes, home and community support services, Maori kaupapa healthcare providers, and non-governmental organizations that provide Health services.

These workers must receive their first dose by Oct. 30, Hipkins said.

The 2021 Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccines) Order will be updated to enforce the vaccine requirement.

Vaccination standards for the education sector

All school personnel, including home educators, teacher aides, administration and maintenance personnel, and contractors, who come into contact with children and students must be vaccinated by early 2022.

Schools and early learning services will be required to keep a record of vaccinated personnel beginning January 1.

These employees must receive their first dose by November 15, 2021, Hipkins said.

All school personnel in Auckland and other regions at alert level three will also need to return a negative Covid-19 test before returning to work on site.

Schools in Auckland were due to return on October 18, however the cabinet decided that schools in the region will remain closed after school holidays end later this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced this afternoon.

Staff who are not fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022 will also need to undergo a weekly Covid-19 test.

Work continues on whether mandatory vaccinations will be required in the tertiary education sector, Hipkins added.

The cabinet has also decided that high schools and kura should keep a record of immunizations for students.

Students who do not present evidence of vaccination will be considered unvaccinated, Hipkins said.

In certain circumstances, exemptions may be possible.

‘It’s not an easy decision’ – Hipkins

Hipkins said that most of the people who work in these sectors are already fully or partially vaccinated, but nothing can be left to chance.

“It is not an easy decision, but we need people who work with vulnerable communities that have not yet been vaccinated to take this additional step.

“Vaccines for children ages 5 to 11 are not yet approved and the health and disability sector includes a variety of high-risk occupations.

“People have a reasonable expectation that our workforce is taking all reasonable precautions to prevent the spread of disease, and government agencies have been working with them to ensure that they are as protected as possible.”

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