University talking to staff over mandate

A "small number" of University of Otago staff covered by vaccine mandates are reluctant to get the jabs.

University roles for which vaccination is mandatory now include health practitioners, staff who carry out work where health services are provided to members of the public, staff working in healthcare-related buildings and facilities or entering them to carry out work (including contractors), and care and support workers.

Staff whose work takes them into schools and/or early childhood centres will also be affected, as will staff whose work takes them into prisons.

University human resources director Kevin Seales said it was continuing to liaise with staff over the mandates, and was carrying out health and safety audits across campus.

"An all-staff forum about vaccines was also held last week. Generally, the response has been positive.

"We would not discuss individual staff members situations."

Staff were being surveyed on their vaccination status.

So far, a small number of staff affected by the vaccine mandate had expressed "reservations" about taking the vaccine and the university was liaising with those individuals, he said.

"In terms of repercussions, we would have conversations with each employee with potential options dependent on the individuals circumstances."

At a university council meeting earlier this week, acting vice-chancellor Prof Helen Nicholson said just over 50% of staff had responded to the survey.

Of those, more than 95% said they were vaccinated.

Human resources would be going back to staff who had not responded, she said.

At the time of the meeting, Prof Nicholson said data showed 90% of students were double-vaccinated.


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