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NZ mandates Covid vaccination for teachers, health workers

Wellington, Oct 11 (IANS) New Zealand has mandated Covid-19 vaccination for teachers and health workers, the two workforces that are critical to preventing the spread of the virus, a Minister said here on Monday.

High-risk workers in the health and disability sector are required to be fully vaccinated by December 1, and to receive their first dose by October 30, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said in a statement.

According to Hipkins, school and early learning staff and support people who have contact with children and students are required to be fully vaccinated by January 1, 2022, and to receive their first dose by November 15, reports Xinhua news agency.

"Vaccination remains our strongest and most effective tool to protect against infection and disease, and we need as many workers as possible to be vaccinated to allow sectors to respond to the pandemic and deliver everyday services with as little disruption as possible," Hipkins said, adding most people working in these sectors have already fully or partially vaccinated.

It will reassure those who are anxious about their children attending school and early learning services, he said, adding exemptions may be possible under some circumstances.

The Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 will be updated to require anyone conducting high-risk work in the health and disability sector to be fully vaccinated by December 1, the Minister said.

Under these new requirements, general practitioners, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics, and all healthcare workers in sites where vulnerable patients are treated must receive their first dose of the vaccine by October 30.

"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," he said, adding relevant work is continuing on whether mandatory vaccinations will be required in the tertiary education sector.