Covid-19 Delta outbreak: Northland health and education sectors not sure how many staff rejected vaccine mandate

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Covid-19 Delta outbreak: Northland health and education sectors not sure how many staff rejected vaccine mandate

Northland’s health and education leaders still don’t now how many workers in their sectors won’t turn up to work today.

The Government’s vaccine mandate for the health and education sectors kicked in on Monday.

The Advocate understands several hundred workers from both sectors may have declined the vaccine.

District health boards around New Zealand were yesterday still collating figures on the number of staff and contractors who have had their vaccinations and the stats will come out today.

Northland District Health Board chief executive Dr Nick Chamberlain has told staff his management would do everything they could within the law to allow employees to decide on having the Covid vaccination while continuing to keep their jobs.

“I feel for all of us following the mandatory vaccination order. I don’t want to debate whether it’s right or wrong, however I am concerned about its implementation and particularly how it will impact some of you,” Chamberlain said.

“We must implement this order, but we also want to give you every opportunity to make a decision that allows you to continue to work for NDHB. Right now, some of you may be feeling animosity toward the organisation.

“Having to take such a firm stance may seem to be contrary to some of our values, but we genuinely care and respect your right to make your own decision. We also have to ensure we can continue to provide care safely for both our patients and staff, and that is the underlying motivation behind the order.”

So far, 249,110 Northlanders have been vaccinated. Of those, 133,430 have had their first dose (83 per cent of the eligible population) and 115,680 their second dose (72 per cent).

The Ministry of Health said a new case reported yesterday was in Auckland but has a Northland residential address. The case is linked to another case within the household. One case remained in Whangārei Hospital in a stable condition.

Just over 1000 swabs were taken and 968 people vaccinated throughout Northland on Monday.

Mahitahi Hauora chief executive Jensen Webber said as far as he was aware, all general practices in Tai Tokerau were complying with the requirements of the mandate.

“We are supporting a small number of general practices who are working through the impact of the mandate order on their services and will continue to work with any practice facing challenges in delivering care to their enrolled populations.”

The Ministry of Education cannot provide information on the number of school staff who hadn’t had their first Covid-19 vaccine shot by Monday.

A spokesperson said the ministry did not know the total number and couldn’t say when they’ll have the figures.

It’s understood roughly 140 teachers and 250 non-teaching staff in Northland were vaccine hesitant late last month, but that number had reduced by more than 50 per cent, as the D-day arrived.

It’s also understood less than 5 per cent of early childhood education staff were affected by the mandate.

Secondary Principals Association in New Zealand Northland representative Alec Soloman had not heard any concerns or problems from principals so far but said he understood there was a real mix between minimal impact to some schools experiencing “significant” effects.

Soloman said a significant majority of the staff at his Tikipunga High School were vaccinated and there had been a minimal inconvenience to them. Soloman said some schools would be facing more significant disruptions.

“The reality is that people were still hoping the mandate didn’t come in. We have had staff, particularly contractors, who only got vaccinated just before the mandate kicked in, so they can continue with their mahi.”

Covid-19 Delta outbreak: Northland health and education sectors not sure how many staff rejected vaccine mandate

Tikipunga High School principal Alec Soloman says the Covid-19 vaccine mandate has had a real mix between minimal impact to some schools experiencing a significant impact. Photo / Michael Cuningham

Soloman said primary schools would be more badly hit, as they were at the full roll.

Te Tai Tokerau Principals’ Association president Pat Newman said the vaccination rate among school staff changed “right up to midnight last night”.

“There will still be some schools who are facing significant problems, but it looks like they are getting covered.”

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