Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood announced today that workplace vaccination requirements will be extended to include the New Zealand Police and Defence Force in preparation for the transition to the new COVID-19 Protection Framework on 3 December 2021.
Ministers have worked with Police and Defence Force leadership on this, and there is broad support for the decision.
“Vaccination is our greatest tool in keeping New Zealanders safe, so we have extended vaccine requirements to include constabulary, recruits and authorised officers of New Zealand Police, and the armed forces and civilian staff of the New Zealand Defence Force,” Michael Wood said.
“So many of the individuals within these organisations have been essential to our COVID-19 response and are already fully vaccinated. But we want to ensure that those who serve and protect our communities on a daily basis can do so without unintentionally spreading the virus,” Michael Wood said.
(The Buzz says, Mr Wood must know by now that vaccinated people can still catch and spread viruses).
First doses of vaccinations for workers in these organisations will be required by 17 January 2022, and second doses by 1 March 2022.
“We already have a very high vaccination rate in the Police and it makes sense operationally to make it a requirement for the constabulary, recruits and authorised officers who have regular contact with members to be vaccinated.
“This is about keeping Police safe and the community safe. 92.2 per cent of all Constabulary Police staff have received at least one dose, and 86.5 per cent are now fully vaccinated. As they are often in contact with vulnerable communities, this is the best way that we can protect our Police staff and the public from COVID-19,” Police Minister Poto Williams said.
“The NZDF provide critical services to New Zealand, including assisting Police at regional borders, and supporting MBIE in resourcing MIQ facilities. It makes sense that they are included in the mandate and most of the NZDF’s Regular Force are already vaccinated. Our defence forces can be deployed at any time to locations where they may come into contact with COVID-19. For example, the recent mission to Afghanistan saw our defence force personnel assisting in the evacuation of New Zealand visa holders, some of whom had COVID,” Defence Minister Peeni Henare said.
NZDF uniformed personnel are currently 98.4 per cent fully vaccinated and civilian staff are already 75 per cent fully vaccinated through the NZDF vaccination programme delivered earlier this year. These rates do not include those who may have received vaccinations through the public health system.
“While a number of other sectors have requested additional government vaccination requirements we are not progressing them at this time. Vaccine mandates are very strong legal requirements that have to be carefully considered based on a clear assessment about how justifiable they are, “Michael Wood said.
“An increasingly large proportion of the population is double-dosed with thousands more getting vaccinated every day, and the simple vaccination assessment tool that will be available for businesses in mid-December will help to streamline the process,” Michael Wood said.
Police Commissioner welcomes Vaccination Order for Police
All staff affected by the mandate will be contacted over the next week about the implications of the Vaccination Order says Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.
“It is not my desire to lose anyone from the organisation as a result of this new mandate and we will work with staff covered by the Vaccination Order to encourage them to get vaccinated,” Commissioner Coster says.
As a result of the Vaccination Order announced today all Police constabulary staff, authorised officers and recruits will need to receive their first vaccination by 17 January 2022 and their second vaccination by 1 March 2022.
In relation to staff that are already covered by the Health Order that mandated vaccination for people working in health and education settings, the vaccination dates for those staff have been brought in line with the Order announced today.
For Police staff not covered by the Vaccination Order or the Health Order, the Police Executive are currently considering the Covid Exposure Assessment Framework to assess whether this applies to those staff.
“I want to acknowledge all Police staff for the incredible work they have been doing to support New Zealand through the challenging times in which we find ourselves.
These are unprecedented times and professionalism and commitment to delivering our response to COVID-19 is making a real difference,” Commissioner Coster says.