Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says the actions of people aggressively demanding vaccination exemptions are “ unacceptable ” as the government moves to create a central process to approve medical exemptions.
At today’s 1pm Covid-19 briefing, Chris Hipkins said there have been reports of people aggressively demanding a waiver, which he says is not acceptable.
“Anyone looking to lobby in the way we’ve seen, that’s an issue that the police will get involved in if necessary,” Hipkins said.
Health and education leaders have been calling for urgent clarity on vaccine exemption certificates as the deadline for teachers to get vaccinated approaches.
Some directors have reported questionable exemption certificates, signed by homeopaths and midwives, being presented to them.
The Post Primary Directors Association says directors have inadequate information, are under pressure and are confused about how to deal with staff who choose not to get vaccinated. Principals estimate that several thousand teachers are resisting the government’s order to get vaccinated.
Hipkins said a central process is being established to approve medical exemptions for people who must be vaccinated under mandatory vaccination orders, who work in health, education or correctional settings. There will also be a similar related process for people who need a vaccination certificate.
“That application process and the criteria under which people can apply will be on the health ministry’s website and we will post it early next week – a centralized process.”
Hipkins said that people who have been issued paperwork that is intended to be such an exemption will still need to apply. Individuals who have paid for this documentation may wish to request a refund.
“This new central process, which has not yet been opened, is the only valid procedure through which anyone can obtain an exemption either because they are required to be vaccinated in the order or because they cannot be vaccinated for a medical reason and want to sign up for your Covid vaccination certificate when available.
“If someone offers to sell you an exemption … they are trying to scam you. There is no other language I can use than that.”
Hipkins said the Prime Minister’s presence in Northland locations, combined with large protests in the area, was preventing some people from accessing the vaccines they were trying to obtain.
He said there is a “small but active group of people traveling the country” who organize protests, which, he said, suggests there is not a growing wave of protests against vaccines.
Hipkins also said the vaccine certificate systems are being “stress tested” now, and he was reasonably confident that they will be up and running for the entire country by mid-November.
He said that people will need to create their MyHealthRecord now to make it much faster and easier and so that the system does not get overloaded. He said the record is different than the notes available from a GP and is the most time consuming part of the certificate.