A sweeping new mandate was implemented in New Zealand on Monday, as most healthcare workers and teachers are now subjected to a "no jab, no job" policy. The country's COVID response minister and education minister Chris Hipkins argued that they "can't leave anything to chance so that's why we are making it mandatory."
According to Breitbart, the New Zealand government has established a December 1 deadline for doctors, nurses, and other frontline health workers to get fully vaccinated against COVID, meaning that they should have had two doses by that date. Meanwhile, those who are working in the education sector such as teachers and school faculty must be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022. Secondary schools are also now required to maintain a register to monitor students' vaccination status.
"Vaccination remains our strongest and most effective tool to protect against infection and disease," Hipkins said. The new vaccine mandate applies to home-based educators and parents volunteering at schools, but no word yet on whether COVID vaccines will be mandatory for tertiary education workers.
Meanwhile, medical groups strongly support the government's "no jab, no job" vaccine mandate, the New Zealand Herald reported. Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners president Dr Samantha Murton described the move as a "bold but necessary step to make" in order to face the highly contagious and deadlier Delta variant of COVID.
Hipkins said that while it was not an easy decision to establish the "no jab, no job" vaccine mandate for teachers and healthcare workers in New Zealand, the government needed "the people who work with vulnerable communities who haven't yet been vaccinated to take this extra step."
"Exemptions may be possible under some circumstances," Hipkins said. But the order will be far-reaching, as it will include "general practitioners, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics, and all healthcare workers in sites where vulnerable patients are treated (including intensive care units)." The order will also affect "certain non-regulated healthcare work, such as aged residential care, home and community support services, kaupapa Māori health providers and NGOs who provide health services."
According to the Ministry of Health, New Zealand has reported 46 new cases of COVID in the last 24 hours, with a total of 476 active cases across the country. Meanwhile, the country has vaccinated 48% of its eligible population.
According to Stuff, some workers in the healthcare and education industries have expressed concerns about losing their jobs over the new COVID vaccine mandate. President of the NZEI education union Liam Rutherford explained however, that there are several steps that can be taken before educators would lose their livelihood from the "no jab, no job" vaccine mandate.
The union, which is responsible for ensuring that educators keep their jobs and ensuring that they are subjected to fair employment processes, said that teachers who refuse the COVID vaccine may be shifted to work that does not involve directly interacting with children, like online learning.
"We and our members want a clearer path laid out on what the country's new approach to Covid-19 will be," Rutherford said. "We need better communication from the Government and we need it quickly."