Change in vax exemption for mandated workers who've had Covid

Corazon Miller
Source: 1News

Mandated workers who've caught Covid-19 and are unable to get boosted in time now only need to show their employers proof of a positive test to be able to return to work once they are no longer infectious.

A person holds a negative result of the COVID-19 antigen rapid test (file picture).

It follows a 1News exclusive earlier this month that showed a number of nurses had been stood down, in some cases unpaid, as they awaited a medical exemption.

Under the current mandates, those working across health, Corrections, and border roles must have a booster within six months of their second Covid-19 vaccine dose - or have an exemption.

But if they had previously caught Covid - they were unable to do so for at least three months, and therefore needed to get clearance.

The process at the time involved several stages, beginning with a GP appointment and ending with a sign off by the Director-General of Health.

But in a change to the Covid-19 Public Health Response Order 2022, that came into effect on May 15, the process appears to have been streamlined.

An update from the National Immunisation Programme reads: "Those who test positive for Covid-19 [are] to be exempt from being vaccinated or receiving their booster dose for a period of 100 days after the date they receive evidence of their positive test results.

"The process will be administered by the employer ... the worker must provide evidence of their test result to the employer".

This could be a screenshot of their My Covid Record that displays the PCR or Rapid Antigen Test result; a hard copy of a laboratory report, or a text notification of the positive test result.

A ministry spokesman says the exemption can be made by the business owner, chief executive or equivalent, or someone else they delegate the task to.

Employers need to provide the ministry with the total number of exempt workers on a regular basis - and only one exemption can be granted per person through this process.

"If a worker subsequently tests positive for Covid-19 illness after recovery from the first illness, that worker will need to apply again to the Ministry of Health via a medical or nurse practitioner," he says.

The Ministry of Health has also expanded the recognised list of booster vaccines beyond Pfizer and Astra Zeneca, to include Moderna, Novavax, Covovax, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Bharat Biotech and Janseen.