New Zealand's doctors and teachers must soon be vaccinated
WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Most of New Zealand's health care workers and teachers will soon be legally required to get vaccinated against the coronavirus, the government announced Monday.
A new mandate compels doctors, pharmacists, community nurses and many other health care workers to be fully vaccinated by December. Teachers and other education workers must be fully vaccinated by January.
COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said many in those professions had already gotten their jabs but they couldn't leave anything to chance, especially because those people deal with sick patients and young children who aren’t yet approved for the vaccine themselves.
”It’s not an easy decision, but we need the people who work with vulnerable communities who haven’t yet been vaccinated to take this extra step," Hipkins said.
New Zealand already requires many people who work at the border to be vaccinated.
The announcement comes as New Zealand battles an outbreak of the highly transmissible delta variant in its largest city, Auckland.
The initial responses from groups representing affected workers were in favor of the mandate.
“Given the speed at which delta is spreading throughout our country, this is a bold, but necessary call to make,” said Dr. Samantha Murton, president of The Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said Monday that Auckland would stay in lockdown for at least another week, while the nearby regions of Waikato and Northland could come out of lockdown on Thursday if no significant spread of the virus was found in those places.
Auckland has been in lockdown for nearly two months, since the outbreak was discovered. Thirty-five new local cases were found in the city on Monday, bringing the total number of cases in...