Law change recognises vaccinations received overseas by border workers

Three of the COVID-19 vaccines commonly administered overseas are now recognised by the Vaccinations Order that requires border workers to be fully vaccinated.

This follows a change to the legislation, which took effect at 11:59pm Sunday October 17 and responds to the need to recognise other vaccines beyond the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which is the only COVID-19 vaccine currently available in New Zealand.

This move will support employers to enable workers who have completed their course with the Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen, or Pfizer vaccines overseas to work on or around the border. It will also support some employers when recruiting people to work on or around the border, especially for specialised roles.

Under the previous version of the Vaccinations Order, their vaccination status was not recognised. But these are all vaccines that are either provisionally approved by Medsafe, or by a trusted regulator.

To meet the requirements of the amended Vaccinations Order, a border worker who has received a single-dose of the 2-dose Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines while overseas will need to have a further single dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. A border worker who has been vaccinated with the Janssen vaccine while overseas will not require a further dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

The amendment also allows the Director-General of Health to authorise a border worker who is partially vaccinated with the Pfizer, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccines, or a border worker who is partially vaccinated with another vaccine not named above, to continue working at the border if the Director-General is satisfied that the vaccine received by the worker while overseas will adequately prevent or limit the risk of an outbreak or spread of COVID-19.

The amendment updates the Vaccinations Order so that it is consistent with clinical advice on the alternatives to the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.

When the original Vaccinations Order was written, the Pfizer vaccine was the only COVID-19 vaccine provisionally approved by Medsafe. The change aligns the Order with Medsafe’s provisional approval of two of these other vaccines.

The Vaccinations Order was introduced because the duties carried out by members of the border workforce put them at a higher risk of exposure to COVID-19.

The Order plays a critical role in keeping border workers, their whānau, communities and all New Zealanders safe.

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