Workplace vaccination mandates to include police and Defence Force

The NZ Police Association is backing mandated vaccinations among police staff. Photo: NZ Herald
The NZ Police Association is backing mandated vaccinations among police staff. Photo: NZ Herald
Workplace vaccination mandates will now officially include police and New Zealand Defence Force staff, it has been announced.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woods has just announced that workplace requirements will be extended to the NZ Police and Defence Force ahead of a move into the traffic light system on December 3.

"Vaccination is our greatest tool in keeping New Zealanders safe, so we have extended vaccine requirements to include constabulary, recruits and authorised officers of New Zealand Police, and the armed forces and civilian staff of the New Zealand Defence Force," he said.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster and the New Zealand Police Association have thrown their support behind the move.

Coster said the mandate was an important step for police and acknowledged that the nature of their work made this necessary to help guarantee safety - for members of the public and staff alike.

"Our work does not always allow us to stay at arm's length from the people we deal with and vaccination is the only control that can mitigate the safety risk in those situations."

Up to 92.2% of police officers and staff around the country have had at least one vaccination; while 86.5% have had both jabs.

Today's announcement means all police constabulary staff, authorised officers and recruits will need to have had at least their first Covid vaccination by January 17 next year and their second shot by March 1.

Association vice-president Mike McRandle said the move is supported by the group because it provides legal certainty for the police force.

"We have always held the position that it is not the role of the association to make medical or moral judgements on the question of vaccination.

"The vast majority of police are vaccinated. But as a microcosm of society, there will be a variety of opinions among members - often strong on both sides."

The risk of officers having to deal with people in all communities around the country supported the move to make sure everyone on the force was vaccinated, he acknowledged.

If officers now choose not to get vaccinated against Covid-19, the association will work to make sure they are treated as fairly and reasonably as possible with the law, McRandle said.

The association also acknowledged that looking at court cases here and in Australia, they could find no precedent that would be successful in overturning a legal mandate announced by government officials.

"But we will continue to monitor that space."

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