Bloomfield: Mandatory Covid jabs for some 'extraordinary'

Source: 1News

Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says mandatory Covid-19 vaccinations for some health and education workers, announced on Monday, was an "extraordinary" decision to make, but officials are not ruling out the move for other industries.

High-risk workers in the health sector need to be fully vaccinated by December 1, 2021, and school and early learning staff in contact with children must be vaccinated by January 1, 2022.

Bloomfield this morning told Breakfast the new rules were about protecting vulnerable patients and tamariki who cannot be vaccinated.

He said there had been "a very positive response" from both sectors, including representatives, unions and individuals.

"I think there's widespread support for this to protect New Zealanders and particularly to protect our tamariki (children) and rangatahi (young people)."

However, Bloomfield said there will be some people who do decide not to get vaccinated against Covid-19 and it may end their employment.

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 22: New Zealand Director-General Dr. Ashley Bloomfield speaks at the Pipitea Marae vaccination centre where he received his first vaccination for COVID-19 on August 22, 2021 in Wellington, New Zealand. All of New Zealand is subject to Alert Level 4 restrictions until at least 11:59 pm Tuesday, August 24. Cabinet will meet on Monday to review the restrictions. Under COVID-19 Alert Level 4 measures, people are required to stay at home in their bubble other than for essential reasons, with travel severely limited. All non-essential businesses are closed, including bars, restaurants, cinemas and playgrounds. All indoor and outdoor events are banned, while schools have switched to online learning. Essential services remain open, including supermarkets and pharmacies. (Photo by Ross Giblin-Pool/Getty Images)

"Other arrangements will have to be made for those people to not work in places or in roles where they may have contact with either patients in a healthcare setting or children in an education setting, and for some of them it may require a conversation that ends to their employment finishing up there.

"We have seen this in the border setting previously where vaccination has been compulsory but actually it's turned out to be a very, very small number."

When asked why police weren't included in Monday's announcement given the nature of their work including dealing with vulnerable communities, Bloomfield said the mandatory vaccinations for police officers hasn't been ruled out.

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"I think people would understand why there is a specific sort of expectation now on health and education sector staff given the nature of the groups they are dealing with - either sick and vulnerable people in healthcare settings or children, in particular those under 12 who can't get vaccinated so I think those are two very important settings," he said.

"That doesn't mean that there isn't further work that I'm sure will continue about whether vaccination needs to be mandatory for other workforces like police or other frontline workforces. But at the moment, I think those are two very important settings and it's great to see the positive response to that decision.

"Any decision about mandatory vaccination is a big one, you know, this is quite an extraordinary decision but these are extraordinary times."