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The Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 (the Vaccinations Order)(external link) came into effect on 1 May 2021.
It requires that specified roles be undertaken only by vaccinated people because they risk being exposed to and infected by COVID-19 in the course of their work activities.
In July 2021, Ministers extended the types of work the Vaccinations Order applies to. It now includes work at:
The amendments to the Vaccinations Order came into force on 15 July 2021 and require affected:
All affected workers are required to have their second injection no more than 35 days after their first.
Further changes to Vaccinations Order came into force at 11.59pm on 23 January 2022, regarding the mandate for a booster dose by six months (183 days) from the end of the primary vaccination course:
If the mandated date of the booster dose for your workforce falls before the date the vaccine booster shot is due (which is six months after completion of the primary course), workers are not required to get the booster until they reach the six-month threshold. However, workers are eligible for a vaccine booster shot from four months after the completion of the primary vaccine course and it is recommended they take the opportunity for an earlier dose, rather than wait the full six months.
Individuals must be 18 years or older to receive a booster dose. If you have people who work for you, who are under 18 years old and have had their primary vaccination course, they are able to continue to work.
Although the Vaccinations Order requires a booster dose six months after the primary course of vaccines, all employers are encouraged to support staff to get their booster vaccinations at four months (if clinically appropriate).
More information about booster doses is available on the Ministry of Health website(external link).
The Vaccinations Order(external link) puts requirements on PCBU to keep records of vaccinations of their affected workers.
The Vaccinations Order allows PCBUs to apply for a supply chain exemption for a named worker. The PCBU must tell the worker of that application in writing.
The exemption comes into force on 12 August 2021.
The Minister for COVID-19 Response (the Minister) decides if an exemption should be granted.
The Vaccinations Order provides the criteria which the Minister must consider in deciding whether to grant an exemption.
The table below outlines the information we expect PCBUs will need to evidence for the matters the Minister must consider before granting an exemption.
What must the Minister take into account in considering an application?
Information that PCBUs could provide to assist the Minister in making their decision
Clause 12A(5)(a): The potential for significant supply chain disruption if the work carried out by a particular person does not occur
· What is the supply chain disruption that would result from the worker being unable to perform the role?
· How significant would the supply chain disruption be?
· Is the supply chain essential?
· What is the extent of the risk to the public interest from the supply chain disruption, including economic impacts?
Clause 12A(5)(b): The extent to which the work is necessary
· What efforts have been made to make the worker aware of the vaccination requirement, including the deadline for getting vaccinated?
· Has the employer/PCBU offered the worker the opportunity to receive the vaccine during their usual working hours?
· What is the reason the worker has decided not to be vaccinated at this time (including any identified barriers to the worker being vaccinated)?
· Has the worker been briefed on the vaccine by a suitably qualified health practitioner?
· Can the individual worker not be replaced with another existing worker, by another function, or by training of other/new staff in the short term?
· Can the employer/PCBU operate without the role, even while recruitment or retraining is underway (noting any qualifications required and how long training will take)?
· How necessary are the work activities, including whether they could reasonably be delayed to facilitate vaccination of the worker needed to perform the role?
Clause 12A(5)(c): The public health risk associated with the work
Does the work involve the worker coming into contact with:
· International arriving or international transiting passengers at affected airports
· Affected ships
· Persons either in, or being transported to, managed isolation facilities/ managed quarantine facilities
· Affected items.
The Minister may exempt the worker for a specified period provided that the extent of the exemption is not broader than is necessary to address the matters that gave rise to the exemption.
No class or group exemptions will be considered. However, if appropriate, a PCBU may seek exemptions for more than one worker at a time. In this situation, the PCBU should outline the cumulative effect of those workers not being vaccinated.
A separate application for each worker is required.
Before applying, you must:
It is important that you fill this out carefully, so the Minister can make an informed decision.
After the Minister has made a decision, you will be informed in writing whether the exemption has been granted or declined.
We expect the process to take at least two weeks from receipt of an application to communicating a decision. This will be subject to change dependent on the number of applications received.
Please note that being in the process of applying for an exemption does not remove the requirement for an affected worker to comply with the Order.
If the application is declined, the worker will either need to be vaccinated within the timeframes specified in the Order or will be unable to perform the role.
Employers/PCBUs can resubmit an application with additional information, however, the timelines specified in the Order still apply. This means no unvaccinated Government worker can be in an affected role after 26 August 2021, and no unvaccinated privately employed worker can be in an affected role after 30 September 2021.
Read more about border worker vaccinations on the Unite Against COVID-19 website(external link) – you can also use the tool to find out if a worker must get vaccinated(external link)
Find out more from the Ministry of Health’s guidance on the vaccination process for border workers(external link)
Email Covid19vaccine@transport.govt.nz for further information or to ask questions.