Vaccinations and work

Find out about workplace vaccinations, including mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for workers, recognised vaccines, exemptions and exceptions, and where to find more information for businesses and workers.

Mandatory vaccinations for workers

These sectors and business types are where COVID-19 vaccinations are mandatory.

  • Border and managed isolation and quarantine workers
  • Education sector 
  • Health and disability sector
  • Prison workers
  • NZ Police
  • NZ Defence Force
  • Fire and Emergency New Zealand
  • Workers covered by the My Vaccine Pass mandate. This applies to food and drink services (excluding businesses that operate solely as takeaways), events, close-proximity businesses and indoor exercise facilities like gyms. The mandate also applies to on-site tertiary education when Red settings are in place.

This may be because they work with populations that:

  • are unable to be vaccinated
  • are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19
  • are at-risk of outbreaks.

Vaccination in these sectors is an important tool for reducing infection and transmission.

For example, in healthcare, workers are more likely to be in contact with someone that has COVID-19, making it a high-risk sector. A high rate of vaccination in this sector will help to protect staff from getting sick and passing COVID-19 onto others, including those who are at risk from severe illness.

Most people in these sectors are already vaccinated. But getting everyone in these sectors vaccinated is critical to the management of COVID-19.

How to get a COVID-19 vaccination

COVID-19 vaccination: Your questions answered

Vaccine booster doses

In principle, Cabinet has agreed that these workers will need to have their vaccine boosters.

Recognised vaccines

Eight vaccines commonly administered overseas are recognised for workers who fall under a mandatory COVID-19 vaccination order.

The recognised vaccines are:

  • Pfizer/BioNTech
  • Janssen (Johnson and Johnson)
  • AstraZeneca (Oxford)
  • AstraZeneca/Covishield (Serum Institute of India)
  • Moderna
  • Sinopharm
  • Sinovac (CoronaVac)
  • Covaxin (Bharat Biotech).

Workers covered by the mandate in New Zealand need to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19. If you have had the Janssen vaccination overseas, you are fully vaccinated with 1 dose.

If you have had 1 dose of any of the other vaccines, you will need to have a second dose to be fully vaccinated. You are able to get a Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine as your second dose.

Exemptions and exceptions

Workers may be able to get an exemption from being vaccinated against COVID-19.

Depending on the type of work done, there are different exemption grounds that may apply. For example, for an exemption on medical grounds, workers will need to apply to the Ministry of Health.

Exemptions for the border, health and education sectors and in prisons | health.govt.nz (external link)

More information about exemptions for hospitality, events, close-contact businesses, gyms and tertiary education will be available soon on business.govt.nz.

NZ Police and NZ Defence Force will have information about exemptions available in mid-December 2021.

Information for businesses and workers

Vaccines and the workplace

Guidance for employees and employers on COVID-19 vaccination requirements in the workplace is available from Employment New Zealand.

Vaccines and the workplace | employment.govt.nz (external link)

Vaccination assessment tool for businesses

If a business or workplace is not covered by a government mandate for COVID-19 vaccination, they can choose to do a risk assessment to see if work needs to be done by vaccinated workers, on health and safety grounds.

The vaccination assessment tool provides a clear, legal framework to help businesses make decisions about vaccinations in the workplace. It is optional to use and does not replace any risk assessments that have already been done.

Vaccination assessment tool | business.govt.nz (external link)

How to decide what work requires a vaccinated employee | worksafe.govt.nz (external link)

COVID-19 Vaccine Business and workplace toolkit

This toolkit contains information and resources to help workplaces, non-profit groups and other organisations to support COVID-19 vaccinations in their communities. The toolkit will help you to support the national vaccine and immunisation programme — and most importantly, ensure your people are protected from COVID-19.

COVID-19 Vaccine Business and workplace toolkit [PDF, 2.7 MB]

NZ Pass Verifier app

The NZ Pass Verifier is a free app that businesses and organisations can use to help stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep their community safe.

More information about NZ Pass Verifier app

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