5 Oct 2021

Covid-19 vaccination deadline missed by 138 border workers

2:32 pm on 5 October 2021

There are 138 border workers employed by private firms who have missed the deadline to be vaccinated.

No caption

Photo: RNZ / Nate McKinnon

Frontline border workers at airports, ports and MIQ had until 1 October to get their first Pfizer dose. Government employees were required to have their first dose by late August.

Figures provided by Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins' office showed 99 percent of all border workers have had their first vaccination and 94 percent are fully vaccinated.

Of the 138 border workers who have not had their first vaccination, 21 were working in airports, 24 were working in managed isolation and quarantine, and 82 were working at ports.

Covid-19 Vaccination Operations group manager Astrid Koornneef said workers who did not meet the vaccination deadline were offered further support, including the option of re-deployment or re-employment.

Vaccination rates among port workers had been lagging behind, but Koornneef said the Ministry of Health worked with port companies, the maritime industry, unions, sector agencies and district health boards to increase uptake and address any concerns.

Figures previously released by Hipkins' office showed that in July, just 55 percent of port workers had had their first dose. By late September, that figure had jumped to 95 percent.

The Ministry of Health said since the requirements came into effect on 1 October, no unvaccinated workers have been identified on the border workforce testing register as currently attending border worksites.

Employers who do not comply with the rules could face a fine of up to $4000 or a prison sentence of up to six months.

As well as active monitoring by the ministry, any non-compliance with the vaccination orders can be reported by colleagues, members of the public, unions, other employers and health and safety representatives.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs