COVID-19 vaccination FAQs

These FAQ are collated using information from Unite Against COVID-19, the New Zealand Government, Ministry of Health, and The National DHB Bipartite Action Group.

We’ll do our best to update this as new information becomes available.

Vaccine mandates

Who is covered under the Government’s new vaccine mandates?

Workers in the following industries have been given vaccine mandates by the Government:

  • MIQ, airport, and border workers
  • Healthcare workers

The following groups of workers will also need to be vaccinated, if their business is participating in the vaccine certificate scheme (i.e. customers need to show their vaccine certificate to access the business/service).

  • Hospitality workers
  • Other close-contact work, such as at hairdressers, gyms, etc.

Other workplaces may also be covered by the vaccine mandate based on a new risk assessment process. The details of this are yet to be announced, but we’ll keep you updated.

What does E tū think of the Government’s vaccination programme?

E tū strongly supports the Government’s vaccine roll out.

We encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to make use of vaccination as a powerful tool that will help to keep our whānau, colleagues, and communities protected, so we can get back to the many parts of our lives that are important to us.

As the Government has now made vaccination mandatory in some sectors, our job is to:

  • ensure E tū members have a good understanding of what the order means
  • ensure your workplace rights are upheld
  • ensure the process employers follow to implement the order is fair.

This includes representation for those who decide not to be vaccinated, or who meet the criteria for an exemption to the order.

We will be advocating for proper consultation with workers about the vaccine requirement as it relates specifically to their roles, and we want to see that workers have access to information and community support regarding the vaccine.

We want to see a fair process for those who cannot be vaccinated. If a risk assessment shows that vaccination is necessary for a worker’s particular role, then an employer should make the best effort to find suitable, alternative work for workers who are not vaccinated.

What are my employer’s responsibilities under the new vaccine mandate?

As announced on Tuesday 26 October, non-vaccinated workers doing roles that require vaccination will be given a four-week notice period to get their vaccination, before employment can be terminated.

Employers will be required to provide paid time off so workers can get their vaccinations.

They will now also need to keep records about workers’ vaccination status.

Receiving the vaccine

How many doses of the vaccine will I need?

You will need two doses to ensure you have the full protection the vaccine can offer. The Government currently recommends receiving these three to six weeks apart.

How long will it take to receive the vaccine?

After receiving the vaccine, you will need to remain behind for 30 minutes just as a precaution to make sure you do not have any immediate allergic or other adverse reactions to the vaccine.

Will my work pay for the time it takes to receive the vaccine?

Your employer must give you time during your work hours to get vaccinated. You must not lose any pay for this time.

This could include:

  • waiting time before and after receiving the vaccine
  • time off if more is required after receiving the vaccine
  • time off to assist dependants to get vaccinate

Understanding the vaccine

Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe?

We believe it is. The Pzifer vaccine was authorised through Medsafe prior to release in New Zealand and is held to the same high safety standards as any other medicine.

To understand more about the vaccine and how it was developed, CLICK HERE.

If I get the vaccine, can I still get COVID-19?

The vaccine helps prevent you from getting COVID-19, experiencing symptoms, or severe illness.

Studies show that around 95% of people who received both doses of the vaccine were protected from serious illness.

For essential workers and those providing services that will bring them into close contact with others, it is important to get vaccinated to protect both you, your whānau, and community.

If I get the vaccine, can I still spread COVID-19?

The vaccine is effective at reducing the number of people who get COVID-19.

It doesn’t stop you from passing on the virus, but some recent studies show that the Pfizer vaccine can reduce transmission by more than 50%. 

These studies looked at the number of people infected with COVID-19 after they’d been vaccinated and their close contacts.

My rights around vaccination

Who do I go to if I have questions about the vaccine?

If you have questions or concerns about the vaccine, you are best to speak to your GP or to call Healthline.

Can I refuse to be vaccinated?

Yes. You also have the right to representation if you do experience harassment or discrimination because of your choice not to be vaccinated.

E tū’s ability to be successful in defending your decision will depend on the risk level of your personal situation for the people around you and what kind of role you are working in. Some roles will be open to vaccinated workers only under the Government’s new vaccine mandate.

What happens if I don’t want to/refuse to be vaccinated?

While you have a right to refuse vaccination, your employer must assess your risk and the risk posed to other workers, customer and the public, as per the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015. Employers are obligated to eliminate, isolate, or minimise that risk.

That could include a change of your role, hours of work or location. It’s also possible that you could face termination of your job, if no alternative work, hours, or location is available.

If this is the case for you, it is essential to understand the reasons for the refusal and the risk to yourself and others.

E tū strongly suggests you seek medical advice from your own personal doctor (GP) or Healthline before refusing to be vaccinated. For more, see MBIE’s guidance around vaccination and work HERE.

Can I be fired for refusing the vaccine?

Employers also cannot require an individual to be vaccinated. However, they can require a specific role be performed by a vaccinated person.

If you refuse to be vaccinated, your employer must assess your risk and the risk to other workers, customers and the public as per the Health and Safety at Work Act 2015, as above.

As announced on Tuesday 26 October, non-vaccinated workers doing roles that require vaccination will be given a four-week notice period to get their vaccination, before employment can be terminated.

E tū strongly suggests you seek medical advice from your own personal doctor (GP) or Healthline before refusing to be vaccinated.

For more, see MBIE’s guidance around vaccination and work HERE.

I have a medical condition and not sure if I can be vaccinated.

We suggest you check in with your own personal doctor (GP). If you are medically unable to be vaccinated, please ask your GP to provide evidence of this and let your manager know.

Do I still need to wear PPE at work?

Yes. You must still follow all PPE requirements and scan in at all locations using the COVID-19 tracer app.

E tū and vaccination

What is E tū’s view on mandatory vaccination?

E tū strongly supports the Government’s vaccine roll out.

We encourage everyone who can be vaccinated to make use of vaccination as a powerful tool that will help to keep our whānau, colleagues, and communities protected, so we can get back to the many parts of our lives that are important to us.

As the Government has now made vaccination mandatory in some sectors, our job is to:

  • ensure E tū members have a good understanding of what the order means
  • ensure your workplace rights are upheld
  • ensure the process employers follow to implement the order is fair.

This includes representation for those who decide not to be vaccinated, or who meet the criteria for an exemption to the order.

We will be advocating for proper consultation with workers about the vaccine requirement as it relates specifically to their roles, and we want to see that workers have access to information and community support regarding the vaccine.

We want to see a fair process for those who cannot be vaccinated. If a risk assessment shows that vaccination is necessary for a worker’s particular role, then an employer should make the best effort to find suitable, alternative work for workers who are not vaccinated.

We will not tolerate discrimination against workers who choose not to vaccinate.

E tū also does not condone harassment and breaches of privacy regarding workers’ medical lives.

What role will E tū play in the Government’s vaccination rollout?

The Government requires employers to engage with union delegates, health and safety representatives, and the wider work force.

E tū delegates will play an important role in making sure workers have the information they need about the vaccine and feel comfortable to receive it.

This includes addressing any concerns about the vaccine or the vaccination process.

As a union, E tū will continually update its platforms as new information becomes available and ensure that links to government information in other languages is provided.

Where can I find out more?

Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment – Employment and COVID-19 vaccination: CLICK HERE
Ministry of Health – COVID-19 vaccines: CLICK HERE
Unite Against COVID-19 – COVID-19 vaccines: CLICK HERE

Last updated: 27 October 2021

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