New Zealand announces vaccine mandates for health, education workers

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Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern during a news conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, on Monday. Photo: Robert Kitchin – Pool/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Monday that COVID-19 vaccines would soon be mandatory for most workers in the education and health sectors.

Why it matters: The country is battling an outbreak of the highly infectious Delta variant, with Auckland the epicenter. NZ’s most populous city has been under lockdown restrictions since August.

  • Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced last week that her government was phasing out its elimination strategy, which proved successful before Delta arrived, and stepping up vaccination rates.

The big picture: COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said at a briefing Monday that under the mandate, health workers including doctors, community nurses and pharmacists must be fully vaccinated by December.

  • Education workers including teachers and parents who regularly volunteer at schools have until January.
  • Health and education groups welcomed the announcement, with the Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners president Samantha Murton calling it a “bold, but necessary call to make.”

By the numbers: The New Zealand government’s goal is to achieve a 90% vaccination rate by Christmas.

  • 79% of eligible New Zealand residents over the age of 12 years old has had at least COVID-19 vaccine dose. 55% are fully vaccinated.

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