Ministers have worked with Police and Defence Force leadership on this, and there is broad support for the decision.
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.
So many of the individuals within these organisations have been essential to our COVID-19 response and are already fully vaccinated. But we want to ensure that those who serve and protect our communities on a daily basis can do so without unintentionally spreading the virus.
First doses of vaccinations for workers in these organisations will be required by 17 January 2022, and second doses by 1 March 2022.
We already have a very high vaccination rate in the Police and it makes sense operationally to make it a requirement for the constabulary, recruits and authorised officers who have regular contact with members to be vaccinated. This is about keeping Police safe and the community safe. 92.2% of all Constabulary Police staff have received at least one dose, and 86.5% are now fully vaccinated. As they are often in contact with vulnerable communities, this is the best way that we can protect our Police staff and the public from COVID-19.
The NZDF provide critical services to New Zealand, including assisting Police at regional borders, and supporting MBIE in resourcing MIQ facilities. It makes sense that they are included in the mandate and most of the NZDF’s Regular Force are already vaccinated. Our defence forces can be deployed at any time to locations where they may come into contact with COVID-19. For example, the recent mission to Afghanistan saw our defence force personnel assisting in the evacuation of New Zealand visa holders, some of whom had COVID-19.
NZDF uniformed personnel are currently 98.4% fully vaccinated and civilian staff are already 75% fully vaccinated through the NZDF vaccination programme delivered earlier this year. These rates do not include those who may have received vaccinations through the public health system.
While a number of other sectors have requested additional government vaccination requirements we are not progressing them at this time. Vaccine mandates are very strong legal requirements that have to be carefully considered based on a clear assessment about how justifiable they are.
An increasingly large proportion of the population is double-dosed with thousands more getting vaccinated every day, and the simple vaccination assessment tool that will be available for businesses in mid-December will help to streamline the process.