No mandate or restrictions for child vaccinations - Dr Ashley Bloomfield

By Mārena Mane

Health director-general Dr Ashley Bloomfield says the government has been very clear since the announcement of the vaccination programme last year that vaccination status for children will not restrict access to either education or other opportunities.

In an interview this morning with Te Ao Tapatahi's Neil Waka, he said it was "very important that we don’t restrict access for children based on their vaccination status - there’s no restriction on them accessing the things they need to grow and develop,” he said.

Māori vulnerability to Omicron

Bloomfield said people with pre-existing conditions are more vulnerable to Omicron but not particularly Māori, even though he says that through the Delta outbreak Māori and Pasifika have had higher rates of pre-existing conditions, hospitalisation, and infection.

“We want to avoid that with Omicron. That's for sure.”

Booster mandated

Bloomfield says a mandate has been extended to require a booster, in particular for healthcare workers, those working on the border, MIQ settings, airports, and ports and in the next few weeks more information will be available on how that will work.

“Currently, our Covid vaccine certificates are based on two doses. There will be a point when there will be a shift to require three doses and so we're just providing advice on when that might be and how that might be implemented.”

Changes to traffic light system

Bloomfield says that he is looking at the traffic light system and the different measures in each setting, in particular the gathering of people in each traffic light colour, because Omicron is not as responsive to the vaccine as Delta.

“We may need to look at the gathering sizes (gathering of people) and some other things there. But we will be using the full range of measures.”