New Zealand has made COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for health workers and teachers, an official said on Monday.
“Our education and health and disability workforces have done an incredible job throughout this pandemic to keep themselves and people safe,” Chris Hipkins, COVID-19 response minister, said in a statement issued from his office.
“While most people working in these sectors are already fully or partially vaccinated, we can’t leave anything to chance and are making it mandatory," Hipkins added.
Under the new policy, all health workers including general practitioners, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics will be fully vaccinated by Dec. 1, while they must receive their first dose by Oct. 30.
Meanwhile, staff working in the education sector have been ordered to get their first dose by Nov. 15 and second dose before the end of this year.
“From 1 January, 2022, schools and early learning services and providers will need to maintain a register, and ensure only vaccinated staff and support people have contact with children and students," Hipkins said.
Meanwhile, the government has also extended the level 3 restrictions in Auckland for another one week and said the schools in the country's major city will not be reopen from Oct. 18.
New Zealand currently battles a new COVID-19 outbreak as the country confirmed the first case of the Delta variant in a traveler who arrived in the country from the Australian state of New South Wales on Aug. 17.
Authorities had put the entire country on Level 4 lockdown after the first locally transmitted COVID-19 case was reported since February.
However, since last month, some of the restrictions were eased after a decline in new cases.
Since the outbreak began locally in 2020, New Zealand has reported 4,659 COVID-19 cases and 28 deaths in a population of about 5 million.
More than 5.8 million doses have so far been administered in the country, with over 2.3 million fully vaccinated, according to Health Ministry data.
* Writing by Islamuddin Sajid