Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine was provisionally approved for use in New Zealand by Medsafe on February 3. An estimated 12,000 border and managed isolation/quarantine (MIF/MIQ) workers and their families or close contacts are first in line for the two-dose vaccination this month, according to the Ministry of Health (MoH).
“We don’t think there will be many people who will not take up the opportunity to protect themselves and those they care for,” Alexander said. “We don’t have a lot of spare people if our workforce gets sick.”
Overseas, the virus and new variants were running “rampant”, she said. “It’s not your average ‘flu, it’s pretty contagious and the new variants are a concern.”
NZNO would likely take its lead from the MoH’s COVID-19 vaccination guidelines for the health workforce – but she hoped nurses and their colleagues would not hesitate. “A well-read and informed workforce would have no problem with being vaccinated,” Alexander said. “We support informed consent and support a vaccinated workforce.”
Residential aged care provider, Arvida Group, on February 3 said any new staff must consent to a COVID-19 vaccination. Chief operating officer Jeremy Nicoll said he hoped this would protect the 5000 residents in its 32 facilities around the country.
Aged Care Association chief executive Simon Wallace has said he would expect all aged-care workers to be vaccinated to protect those they cared for.
Immunisation Advisory Centre (IMAC) national manager Loretta Roberts said they were ready, with preparations for a mass COVID-19 vaccination programme underway since April 2020.
An extra 2300 people were in training as vaccinators on top of an existing vaccination workforce of 5400. The new additions included retired health professionals, enrolled nurses, final-year medical, nursing and pharmacy students, dentists and physiotherapists, according to the MoH.
Now the vaccine had arrived, 500 vaccinators would complete the COVID-19 module and begin inoculating essential workers this month, Roberts said.
More details on vaccinator training can be found on The Immunisation Advisory Centre website.
Roberts urged nurses to sign up for the IMAC newsletter for up-to-date information.