Midwives need more vaccine information, top midwife says

By Marena Mane

In early August, the midwifery sector went on strike across the country due to failed union negotiations.

Last month, hospital midwives agreed to an agreement that included safe staffing standards and a pay rise of $5,800.

But attention has also been on the sector, after reports that some midwives are protesting the Covid-19 vaccine mandate and may lose their jobs as a result.

New Zealand College of Midwives president Nicole Pihema says it's not so much about refusing the vaccine as it is about ensuring midwives have access to information about the vaccine, not only for themselves but also for the families they deal with.

“It's really important that we have appropriate support systems to ensure that our whānau and our kaiwhakawhānau (midwives) also have access to that information really quickly,” she says.

Pihema is afraid that many places, particularly rural areas, may lose midwives as a result of the vaccine mandate's opposition, and feels their service has been devalued.

“This is kind of like the last straw for some of those midwives. This pandemic has created waves amongst many professions, and also amongst our whānau.”

Pihema says they're waiting for the government to issue a mandatory order, but she says there are a lot of informal directions out there right now, and they're looking for methods to help the communities given that some midwives refuse to get vaccinated.

“As I said, if we can increase that information, then we hope we can support them to make a decision for the whānau that they provide care for but we don't have any formal direction at this stage.”

The reaction from the midwives has been positive since the settlement last month, according to Pihema, despite the fact that it has been a long process and midwives have had to battle for any type of change.

“It’s a really important time for us to ensure that what has been promised comes to fruition.”