How to achieve balance in your vaccination policy
Aotearoa has now joined other countries to require health and community support workers and teachers to be vaccinated for Covid-19. At the Policy Place, we’re updating our Vaccination policy and procedure for our members to prepare for the changes.
But what about in other areas of social and community services? Can and should your organisation’s policies and procedures require staff to be vaccinated for Covid-19?
Short answer: it’s a balancing act.
A careful approach
Worksafe has consistently advised that a cautious approach be taken to imposing a vaccination requirement. More recently, it has listed some questions for management and staff to consider when developing their policy on vaccination and considering a requirement for vaccination. Check out the questions here to help you draft your Vaccination policy and procedure.
Risk assessment in your vaccination policy
For social and community services, who are not going to be covered by the Public Health Order requirements for vaccination, your organisation’s policies and procedures should provide for job roles to be assessed for risks of exposure to and transmission of Covid-19.
To assess risks, we suggest you consider the following:
- Public Health and sector/ industry advice on vaccination
- the extent to which the role exposes staff to a risk of exposure to Covid-19
- whether the role involves working with people who are vulnerable to severe disease/death if they are infected
- how many people the role interacts with (could it lead to ‘super-spreading’ event if the person in the role was to contract COVID-19)
- the effectiveness of other infection/ transmission control measures (eg masks; office barriers) at minimising the risk of infection and transmission across staff and those we work with
- other relevant factors (eg rate of community transmission).
Don’t discriminate in your vaccination policy
It’s also important to consider if there are likely to be any discriminatory impacts.
We know that more needs to be done to support tangata whenua, Pasifika and younger people to be vaccinated. A blanket requirement for new and existing staff to be vaccinated could therefore have a discriminatory impact on these groups.
It’s about balancing…..
As we’ve said before, your policy and procedure on vaccination needs to be carefully balanced.
On the one hand, legal responsibilities to protect kaimahi and clients from preventable harm must be fulfilled. On the other hand, your vaccination policy and procedure must avoid discriminatory impacts and give you enough flexibility to work with staff who are unable to be or haven’t yet been vaccinated on options to keep safe in the workplace.