New Zealand mulls vaccinating workers at their workplaces

The government is considering giving employees the COVID-19 vaccine the same way they get their annual flu jab at work.
By: | February 16, 2021

COVID-19 response minister Chris Hipkins said this will help the government get the vaccine to more people in a shorter time.

The minister said the flu system where many people are given the vaccine at work has worked well in the past. “We are going to look to use those same networks again with the COVID vaccine,” he said. 

“So, if you already have people come to your workplace to do flu vaccines every year, if we can get them doing the COVID-19 vaccine through the same mechanism, it will help us to reach people more quickly.” 

Hipkins’ statement comes as the country is expected to receive its first batch of COVID-19 vaccines this week. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has announced that frontline COVID-19 workers will get the vaccines first, starting on Saturday, February 20. 

After these roughly 12,000 workers have been vaccinated, their close family members will be offered the jab. 

Those most at risk of COVID-19– people over 65 and people with underlying health conditions – will be next in line, and are scheduled to get the vaccine in the second quarter. 

In the second half of the year, the vaccination campaign will go full nationwide. Ardern said she expects it to finish before Christmas. 

To encourage people to get the vaccine, the government will be launching a vaccine awareness campaign as both Hipkins and Ardern said there are people with “vaccine hesitancy” in the country. 

Hipkins said one of the challenges with the vaccination programme will be the Māori not coming forth to get the vaccine when it is made available to them. 

READ: Employers in New Zealand get US$252 for self-isolating staff

“We know that vaccine hesitancy is more likely to exist in our Māori and Pacific populations – that’s the barrier that I’m most worried about,” he said. However, he added that the government will work closely with their leaders to “overcome vaccine hesitancy”. 

Meanwhile, New Zealand’s annual flu vaccination programme will go ahead as it has in previous years, said Hipkins, according to Nzherald.