No nurse left behind: Cabinet expands vaccine mandate from original groups

November 1, 2021

NZNO is calling for a programme of COVID-19 booster shots for frontline workers who face waning protection.

The call comes as the Government’s vaccine mandate now kicks in for all nurses in Aotearoa.

NZNO industrial services manager Glenda Alexander said the first vaccinations were delivered more than six months ago.

People may now have waning immunity, she said.

“They’re still much better protected than the unvaccinated, but recent infections among presumably vaccinated health workers confirms that this is a significant health and safety issue – and one for which we could reduce risk.”

Alexander said NZNO supported the Government’s “robust” approach to nationwide vaccination, and wanted all its members vaccinated.

She said current frontline staff faced COVID-19 “every day” while at work, with an ongoing need for protection.

“Frontline workers should be prioritised. We also want to see vulnerable populations prioritised.”

Meanwhile the NZ Nursing Council said in a public statement that the health order covering mandated vaccination now included all practising nurses.

On November 7 the government updated its health order to exempt health practitioners who worked with patients remotely – such as online, or by phone.

The order applied to nurses working in the public health system, a for-profit company, or a charity or other non-government organisation. It also applied to the self-employed.

Dates set for vaccination

Nurses had till November 15 to get their first shot, and January 1, 2022 to receive their second.

The council said it strongly recommended every nurse get vaccinated, unless there were clear health reasons not to.

Non-compliance with the vaccination mandate by a nurse could lead to a complaint or referral of a conviction to the council.

This would be investigated in the same way as any other complaints or convictions.

See also: Why would nurses resist vaccination?, Mandatory vaccinations & workers’ rights, Rights are balanced by responsibilities, and Mandatory vaccination – what about students?

Story updated since print issue.