All MPs now fully vaccinated

Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins after his vaccine in March. Photo: Getty Images
Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins after his vaccine in March. Photo: Getty Images
All of the country's members of Parliament are now fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

The final MP to get a second dose was National's West Coast-based MP Maureen Pugh, who confirmed she had her second dose last week.

It comes as the House sits for the first time this week under the new traffic light system, with Wellington currently in the orange setting.

This means all 120 MPs are now allowed in the House, after it had been operating at half-capacity due to gathering limits while Wellington was at level 2. They will need to continue wearing masks in the House.

Speaker Trevor Mallard said there were no powers to bar any elected members access to Parliament if they were unvaccinated, but if there had been any holdouts the House would have had to continue sitting at reduced capacity.

Maureen Pugh. Photo: Greymouth Star
Maureen Pugh. Photo: Greymouth Star
Mallard said this would not be necessary now as party whips had confirmed to him on Friday that all MPs were now fully vaccinated.

Pugh had repeatedly told the media that she was waiting on advice from her doctor before getting the vaccine.

Pugh confirmed that she had her second dose last week.

Pugh, 63, had been eligible to be vaccinated since the end of July.

Pugh said the delay was not because she was anti-vaccination, but rather "logistical issues" in making an appointment at her medical centre.

The West Coast has some of the lowest vaccination rates in the country, with 82 per cent of the eligible population fully vaccinated compared to 88 per cent nationwide.

Pugh said she was confident those rates would lift quickly. Part of the reason for the slow uptake there was access, but also "a range of strong views", she said.

Te Pāti Māori was the first party to be fully vaccinated, with co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi getting their first doses in May.

Labour's 65 MPs and the 10 Green MPs had all been fully vaccinated after the Super Saturday event on October 16.

Act's 10 MPs had all had their second doses by November.

Mallard said the parliamentary framework had been developed with feedback from MPs and staff, with the widely held view allowing unvaccinated visitors would pose a risk to them.

"All MPs and staff members, including those who have friends and whānau who are vulnerable to Covid-19, or who are vulnerable themselves, should be able to come to work at Parliament and feel as safe as possible."

From January 1 next year visitors will need to have a vaccine pass to take tours of Parliament. There will be virtual opportunities for those choosing not to present vaccine passes.

Staff vaccination was a matter for employers, Mallard said, but for those without vaccine passes their movements would be highly restricted. Those unvaccinated would have to also provide a negative Covid test no more than seven days prior to entering the building.

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