We advocate for the interests, rights and wellbeing of children and young people

Call for mandatory vaccination of children’s workforce

Media releases

7 October 2021

The Children’s Commissioner and Assistant Māori Commissioner are calling for a plan for the mandatory vaccination of teachers and the entire children’s workforce in New Zealand.

“Children under 12 do not have access to the vaccine, so we need to protect them from the virus and stop them bringing it home to their families,” Children’s Commissioner Andrew Becroft says.

 "We are calling on the Government to outline a timeframe by which the entire frontline children’s workforce must be vaccinated unless they have a medical exemption. This includes all teachers and staff in early childhood, primary and secondary schools, frontline healthcare professionals, social workers and staff who work in Oranga Tamariki homes and residences.

“States in Australia have already issued vaccine mandates for schools and requiring adults and students in secondary schools to wear masks at all times.

“With Covid-19 now spreading further into our communities, we have an opportunity to plan ahead to protect children and those who can’t be vaccinated from the virus,” Commissioner Becroft says.

Assistant Māori Commissioner Glenis Philip-Barbara added that lower levels of vaccine protection in Māori communities made the need for workforce mandates even more important.

“The experience overseas is that adults are much more likely to pass on the virus to children in schools, than the other way around. Until the vaccine roll out starts working more effectively in Māori communities, it will be vital that mokopuna are protected while at school.

“It’s also important that mokopuna detained in Oranga Tamariki residences or in mental health units, are protected. They are completely vulnerable to the illnesses brought in from the outside so adults who work with them must do all they can to keep them safe.

“There should be a plan that ensures all workers, including our own staff, who visit these places will be vaccinated.

“So many communities, in particular whanāu Pasifika in Auckland, have pulled out all stops to protect one another through vaccination, the rest of us must step up and do our bit too,” she said.