New Zealand announced on Monday that most health workers and teachers will not be able to work unless they are vaccinated against COVID-19.
“We can’t leave anything to chance, which is why we’re making it mandatory,” said Chris Hepkins, the minister responsible for fighting the coronavirus and head of the education department.
Doctors, nurses and other health care workers who are in direct contact with patients will have to be fully vaccinated before December 1. Faculty members in contact with students must have received both doses by January 1.
The Royal College of General Practitioners of New Zealand has backed the initiative and its president, Samantha Morton, described the move as “bold but necessary”.
“Vaccination remains our most effective tool to protect against infection and disease,” he said.
For months, the archipelago has been shielded from an epidemic, mainly due to strict border measures. But the emergence of the most contagious delta species in Auckland in August changed the situation.
Despite containment measures, Covid-19 is spreading to the neighboring counties of Northland and Waikato.
Last week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern acknowledged that the “zero Covid” strategy that had so far been in place in the archipelago did not stop the transmission of the virus.
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