There is confusion over the application of the Covid-19 vaccination mandate for firefighters. The amended Health Order has now been released.
- The bottom line is that Firefighters must have the Covid-19 booster by 15 February 2022 or 183 days from the date of their second vaccination dose – whichever is the latest.
- For firefighters that had their second dose more than 183 days ago, the Order requires the booster shot no later than 15 February 2022.
- Firefighters will continue to be treated as vaccinated and will continue to work as usual until the applicable date. Post that date they will not be treated as vaccinated and unable to continue in their role as firefighters. The same process for unvaccinated firefighters is to apply.
The 15 February 2022 date is different to the 1 March 2022 date notified yesterday.
- The Order stipulates the category that applies to firefighters must be vaccinated no later than 15 February 2022 or 183 days from the date of their vaccination.
- The Government’s Covid-19 and Ministry of Health websites state that FENZ personnel captured by the mandatory vaccination order must receive their booster shots no later than 1 March 2022.
Yesterday the NZPFU notified FENZ that the publicly available information was different to the FENZ information to members. As we had not been able to access the Order at that time we requested FENZ provide the Order urgently. As we had not received a reply or the information we notified members yesterday of the Government information on the mandatory date.
FENZ has now informed the NZPFU that the applicable mandatory date had been discussed with Government representatives prior to the Order being finalised, and FENZ has tried to retain the 1 March 2022 date. FENZ did not inform the NZPFU of the issue. FENZ was more than happy to involve the NZPFU to have the November mandatory vaccination date extended but did not engage with the NZPFU on this issue.
We have urged FENZ to continue to push for the 1 March 2022 date as that is consistent with the extension provided by Government for the first dose of the vaccination. It is also very important that the public can continue to have confidence in the information on the Government websites and FENZ has repeatedly advised personnel that the Government websites are the source of truth.
Prior to a FENZ “Governance Group” structure any Covid-19 issue including vaccinations were raised and discussed in a constructive manner where the NZPFU and other partner agencies were able to influence FENZ decisions and proposed Government policy to ensure practicality and certainty. FENZ no longer engages in that manner and instead releases emails on matters that have not been raised or discussed.
This confusion on the mandatory booster shots would have been avoided had FENZ been open and notified the NZPFU of the date debate prior to the Order being finalised, and provided relevant information (including the Order) to the NZPFU. Confusion and uncertainty only adds stress to those struggling with the current Covid-19 requirements and environment.
It is really unfortunate that the confusion on the mandated dates has arisen and continues. However, we must apply the Health Order rather than the current Government information available on the websites.
The application of the mandate and process:
- The Covid-19 vaccination mandate for booster shots only applies to those that were covered by the mandatory Covid-19 vaccination Order.
- The deadline dates for the mandatory boosters are different for the different categories of workers/volunteers under the Order. The category that applies to firefighters has the mandatory date of 15 February 2022 or 183 days from vaccination (the second dose unless the individual has an accepted medical exemption).
- Vaccinated firefighters remain considered as vaccinated until 15 February, or 183 days since the second dose of the Covid-19 vaccination (for those not eligible for the booster dose by 15 February 2022). They continue to work as firefighters until the applicable deadline.
- Vaccinated firefighters that have not received their booster shot by the applicable deadline will not be able to continue to work as firefighters.
We will keep members informed of any developments. The National Committee and Locals representatives are meeting this afternoon for a Covid19 update.