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The announcement that healthcare workers must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 is welcome and important news, the NZ Medical Association says.

High-risk workers in the health and disability sector must be fully vaccinated by 1 December, 2021, and to have received their first dose by 30 October, Minister for COVID-19 Response Chris Hipkins has announced.

The Government’s decision covers general practitioners, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics, and all healthcare workers in sites where vulnerable patients are treated (including Intensive Care Units).

NZMA Chair Dr Alistair Humphrey said the move will keep patients and healthcare workers safe.

“Today’s announcement will save lives,” he said.

“All doctors should be vaccinated, and we know the vast majority is. Principle 1 of the Code of Ethics for the New Zealand Medical Profession is that the health and well-being of the patient is a doctor’s first priority.”

Doctors and other healthcare workers are more likely to be exposed to COVID-19 in the course of their work, Dr Humphrey said.

It follows that their patients, many of whom are debilitated or immunocompromised, are more likely to suffer serious complications if they are infected by the doctor.

“We called a month ago for all doctors involved in patient care to be fully vaccinated – we’re pleased the Government has come to the same view.”