New Zealand announced Monday a sweeping “no jab; no job” policy for most healthcare workers and teachers to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“We can’t leave anything to chance so that’s why we are making it mandatory;” said COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, who is also the education minister.
Doctors, nurses and other frontline health workers must be double-jabbed by December 1; while everyone working in the education sector who has contact with students must have their two doses by January 1.
The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners backed mandatory vaccinations with president Samantha Murton describing it as a “bold, but necessary call” to make.
Secondary schools will also be required to keep a register to show the vaccination status of students.
“Vaccination remains our strongest and most effective tool to protect against infection and disease,” Hipkins said.
The order includes home-based educators and parents volunteering at schools; but no decision has been made on whether vaccination will be mandatory in the tertiary education sector.
Before the arrival of the Delta variant in August; New Zealand had won widespread praise for its Covid elimination policy, which had largely protected the country from the pandemic.
Residents enjoyed a near-normal domestic life alongside tight restrictions on international borders.
However, the “Covid Zero” strategy fell apart when Delta was detected in Auckland; New Zealand’s most populated region, and has since spread to the surrounding Northland and Waikato provinces.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said the highly transmissible Delta variant had proved a “game-changer” that could not be eliminated.