New Zealand announced late Monday that it would join the growing list of developed nations forcing workers – or at least certain workers – to choose: either accept the jab, or lose your job.
One week after Canada adopted mandatory vaccination rules for federal workers and travelers, New Zealand has announced its own vaccine mandates for most teachers and health care workers.
Per NZ’s Liberal-led government, doctors, nurses and other health-care workers must be fully vaxxed by Dec. 1, while everyone working in education who has contact with students must be vaccinated by Jan. 1.
“We can’t leave anything to chance so that’s why we are making it mandatory,” said COVID Response Minister Chris Hipkins, who is also the country’s education minister.
“Vaccination remains our strongest and most effective tool to protect against infection and disease,” Hipkins said.
New Zealand briefly enjoyed COVID-free status after the initial global outbreak, but the country’s “drawbridge” strategy was unable to keep out the delta variant, imposing a lockdown in Auckland, the country’s largest city after confirming just a single case. As cases spread despite the tightening restrictions, the government was forced to finally abandon its “COVIDZero” strategy.
New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern said the highly transmissible delta variant had proved a “game-changer” that can’t be easily eliminated.
As kiwis confront the new system, the Guardian is reporting that New Zealand’s epidemiology “experts” were taken by surprise when Ardern abandoned “COVIDZero”. They said they weren’t consulted about the government’s new system, which will lessen restrictions in three stages.
“We were obviously surprised on Monday last week when the government seemed to say that we were moving away from elimination,” said prof Michael Baker, one of the country’s most prominent pandemic communicators and a member of the ministry’s Covid-19 Technical Advisory group. “A decision of that size – changing your major strategy – you’d think you would consult with [the] quite small batch of scientists and other advisers who work very hard to support the government … explaining things to the public.”
“That was very unusual. I think the government’s done a great job generally with consultation and getting us all to at least understand the rationale for change.”
Others insisted that the only way out for the country is full vaccination.
Now, keep in mind, New Zealand has confirmed fewer than 5K cases and fewer than 30 deaths.