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Health sector welcoming back the unvaccinated staffers

Aged care operators hope the removal of the vaccine mandate will fill much-needed roles in the workforce.
Before today, all health, disability and aged care workers were required by the government to have two doses of the covid-19 vaccine. The government announced on September 12 that it would be lifting the requirement today, along with facemask requirements.
Wairarapa Village operations manager Martin Taylor said getting staff in aged care was difficult.
“We’ve had a very hard time getting enough staff at the moment.
Taylor said they were lifting the vaccine requirement for staff, as per government guidelines.
“We will be following all direction from the government. We don’t know how many nurses we were unable to employ until now, so it’s good they’re now able to return to work.”
Masonic Villages owns Glenwood Masonic Hospital. Masonic chief executive Warick Dunn said there was a
low supply of registered nurses.
“We’d like them to have a direct path to residency, having to wait two years, which is different from other critical areas in the workforce.”
From Monday, the recruitment process would turn back to pre-covid.
“We still encourage new staff to be vaccinated.
“Last year we lost about 1.8 per cent of our workforce. They were all support staff, such as kitchen workers. We didn’t lose any nurses.”
He said they would welcome those people back where and when they have vacancies.
Age Concern Wairarapa manager Chris Clarke said while they weren’t a health service, they were high advocates for the vaccine.
“The vaccine is no longer a requirement for our staff, but luckily all our staff did get vaccinated.
“Our staff have been diligent in taking steps to keep themselves well, and the people we work with.”
Health NZ will continue mandate the vaccine for its staff, despite the government lifting the requirement.
A Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand spokesperson said: “Over the coming weeks Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand will be developing a new single-vaccination policy, which will apply to the whole of the organisation, including all our hospitals.
“In the meantime, the current policies across New Zealand’s hospitals will remain in place, with an expectation that all new staff will be up to date with their vaccinations before they join Te Whatu Ora.”
At time of print, most job adverts for Wairarapa Hospital required that applicants have two doses of the covid-19 vaccine.
New Zealand College of General Practitioners Bryan Betty said he wasn’t aware of any clinics that would enforce the mandate after today.
“Some employers allowed doctors and nurses to work remotely to get around the fact they weren’t vaccinated.
“It’ll be up to the individual employers whether they will continue the mandate and whether unvaccinated ex-employees can return.”
CCS Disability Action could not confirm whether it would continue the mandate until it received more information from the Government.
Central region access coordinator Raewyn Hailes said that, despite the removal of restrictions, some members of the community were hesitant to go out.
“We’re encouraging people to move back to business as usual but some will remain isolated. We’ve found with older people, they’ve become entrenched in being at home, and it’s become a habit.
“For those that are immunocompromised, they’re scared of getting long covid – tiredness and struggling to breathe.”
Hailes said the organisation did lose staff as a result of the mandate, but none in Wairarapa.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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