School and ECE staff who have contact with kids must be vaccinated by Jan 1

Anna Whyte
Source: 1News

Covid-19 vaccinations are to be mandatory for significant parts of the health and education workforce in New Zealand. 

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

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. 

"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," Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said. 

"A high rate of vaccinations will help to protect staff from getting sick and passing Covid-19 onto loved ones," he said.

"It will also reassure those who are anxious about their children attending school and early learning services."

Education

From January 1, 2022, only vaccinated education staff and support staff are allowed to have contact with children and students, with schools and early learning services needing to ensure this and keep a register. 

They will need their first dose by November 15. The mandate will also include home-based educators, teacher aides, admin and maintenance staff, and contractors. 

"All school employees in Auckland and other Alert Level 3 regions will be required to return a negative Covid-19 test result before they can return to work onsite," Hipkins said. 

"Those who are not fully vaccinated in the period leading up to January 1, 2022, will also be required to undergo weekly Covid-19 testing."

Schools and kura will need to keep a Covid-19 vaccination record of students who are eligible, with those who do not provide their status considered unvaccinated. 

The Government is still considering whether to make vaccination mandatory in tertiary education. 

Health 

Those working in high-risk health and disability jobs will need to be vaccinated by December 1, 2021. 

It means GPs, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics, and all healthcare workers in sites where vulnerable patients are treated need to have their first vaccine by October 30. 

"These requirements also include certain non-regulated healthcare work, such as aged residential care, home and community support services, kaupapa Māori health providers and non-government organisations who provide health services," Hipkins said, adding a full list of those included would be released over the next few days. 

"While most people working in these sectors are already fully or partially vaccinated, we can’t leave anything to chance and are making it mandatory," Hipkins said. 

Consultation began in September around making immunisation against Covid-19 mandatory for most of those working in New Zealand's health workforce. 

Hipkins previously said at least 75 per cent of health workers were already fully vaccinated, after eligibility opened early for the vaccine group two in late March.

The two new sectors will see them join MIQ and port workers in needing vaccination against Covid-19.