Pre-surgery vaccination a national discussion

Health boards are discussing nationally whether patients will need to be vaccinated against Covid-19 before planned surgery.

When asked at a board committee meeting yesterday if not being vaccinated could delay someone’s planned surgery, Southern District Health Board chief executive Chris Fleming said a conversation on that question was now happening at a national level.

SDHB chief medical officer Nigel Millar said right now Covid-19 vaccination would not be key determinant of whether or not to proceed with surgery.

‘‘We must warn patients that acquiring Covid could be catastrophic, not just because you are getting Covid but because you are in a very vulnerable state,’’ Dr Millar said.

‘‘There could be a time, if we have significant Covid-load in the hospital, that we would have to think cautiously about whether it would be safe to admit someone for planned surgery or not on the basis that we might be exposing them to high risk.’’

Dr Millar said hospital staff were already able to access a patient’s vaccination status prior to surgery through their clinical records.

‘‘This was strongly supported by [clinicians], who every time they encounter a patient considering elective surgery will go through Covid issues with them.’’

Board member Moana Theodore said it needed to be remembered that many of those who were unvaccinated were in groups which featured poorly in health statistics, and equity issues needed to be considered when potentially refusing treatment.

‘‘It speaks to the need to continue to promote widespread vaccination in our community.’’


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