Time to move on from mandates

Sun, 19 Jun, 2022

“ACT is calling on the new COVID-19 Minister to remove the broad vaccination mandates on health workers,” says ACT’s Health spokesperson Brooke van Velden.

“Workforce shortages are having a huge detrimental impact across the health sector and vaccination mandates, alongside unworkable isolation requirements, are major reasons for this.

“Emergency departments are understaffed and Kiwis are at risk, only this week someone tragically passed away after they couldn’t be seen in a reasonable timeframe at A&E.

"A health practice owner contacted me a few days ago to explain that they had to let go of three staff members because of the mandate, meaning business finances are down, and the local community is let down as the same number of people still need help but need to find it at A&E or the after-hours GP.

“Over 1000 health workers nationwide have been stood down because of vaccination mandates, including 518 nurses. Can we really afford to not have all hands on deck right now?

“In February this year the Prime Minister confirmed that the Government will remove COVID-19 vaccine mandates when “they’re not needed.” A few weeks later, the High Court pointed out that vaccination does little to reduce spread of COVID-19 because the Omicron variant is so transmissible. As a result mandates were dropped for education, police, and defence workers.

“However, chiropractors, midwives, physiotherapists, dentists, dieticians, GPs, and nurses are all still required to be vaccinated even though COVID-19 is highly transmissible regardless of vaccination status.

“COVID-19 is widely spread throughout New Zealand. ACT thinks it should be up to organisations to make policies as they see fit, including the ability to have regular rapid antigen tests as an alternative to vaccination, which give greater reassurance that a health worker does not have COVID-19 than their vaccination status.

I have written to the new Minister asking her to consider this common sense change that could help address the workforce shortages facing our health system.”