Category : News
Author: Bridie Witton and Henry Cooke

The Government is wielding a bigger stick over the unvaccinated, after mandating healthcare, schools and early childhood staff be vaccinated against Covid or lose their jobs by the end of the year, as it makes another major push for its vaccine roll-out to outpace the virus.

The ‘’no jab, no job’’ policy is one of the latest means to make life increasingly hard for those who haven’t taken up the Pfizer vaccine.

The Government says that low vaccination rates, in part, are keeping Northland and Waikato at alert level 3 until Thursday, Auckland at level 3 for at least another week and keeping schools online when term four starts next Monday.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins mandate vaccinations for the education and health workforce

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern yesterday announced the Government’s largest vaccine mandate to date, which will cover hundreds of thousands of workers in education and healthcare. Unvaccinated teachers will soon have to undergo weekly Covid-19 tests.

“The reason we are stepping up our vaccine requirements is because Delta is a different and more difficult opponent,” Ardern said during a press conference in the Beehive in Wellington.


The healthcare worker mandate will cover those in “high-risk” roles; GPs, pharmacists, community healthcare nurses, midwives, paramedics and hospital workers as well as those in aged residential care staff, home and community support staff.

The education mandate covers all front-line staff who work in schools, and early childhood education.

The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners, the professional body for community doctors, as well as the nurses union have come out in support of the mandate.

As of Monday, about 57 per cent of New Zealanders aged 12 and over had been fully vaccinated against Covid while about 82 per cent had one dose.

General Practice New Zealand, an advocacy group for GPs, has even gone a step further, encouraging public health organisations to report ‘’anti-vax’’ doctors to the Medical Council.

Both teachers unions – the PPTA and NZEI – have also supported the move, with limited caveats.

The majority of those workers will have already been vaccinated against the virus but Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said the Government “can’t leave anything to chance”.

“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,” he said.

“A high rate of vaccination will help to protect staff from getting sick and stop them from passing it on. It will also reassure those who are anxious about their children returning to a school or early learning service.”

The decision to leave Auckland in level 3 means the city will have spent nine weeks in lockdown before Cabinet again looks at whether it can loosen restrictions next Monday as part of its three-step roadmap for the city. .

Community cases in the nation’s commercial capital have been steadily increasing since a slight easing of restrictions last Wednesday – allowing early childhood education centres to open with conditions, and access to the beach and bowls.

University of Canterbury Covid-19 mathematical modeller Professor Michael Plank

Ardern said the R number – the average number of people infected by each case – had risen to between 1.2 and 1.3. There were 35 new cases announced on Monday, all in Auckland.

But mental health, well-being and people’s will to comply with lockdown guidelines were factors in Cabinet’s decision-making, she said.

“For instance, what you saw in Australia was they had the same restrictions constantly, and yet they saw at a certain point their cases tick up without having made any changes.

“One of the things in our thinking has been, over time, adhering to really strict restrictions is hard, and you can expect human behaviour might change.”

Professor Michael Plank, a Covid modeller at Te Pūnaha Matatini and University of Canterbury, said it was clear cases were rising as a result of Wednesday’s loosening of restrictions in Auckland, but vaccinations would help to bring it down.

As of Monday, about 57 per cent of New Zealanders aged 12 and over had been fully vaccinated against Covid while about 82 per cent had one dose.


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