Mandates Are Gone! Aren’t They?
Why Healthcare Workers Won’t Get Their Public Hospital Jobs Back and Where Masks Are Still Mandated.
On the 12th September the Prime Minister announced changes to NZ COVID-19 mandates.
But all is not as it seems. Despite saying we can have certainty about our summer, the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act of 2020 is still in place. This gives the Minister of Health and/or Director General of Health the ability to announce lockdowns and other COVID-19 mandates at the drop of a hat, or perhaps we should say for even a single positive PCR test when it pleases them.
Here are seven questions about the announced changes to NZ COVID-19 mandates.
1. Great news, so can the 1500 staff sacked from NZ public hospitals get their job back?
No, no they can’t.
2. Why not?
Because the government removed mandates made under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act of 2020. But it gave all employers the right to require employees have COVID-19 vaccinations.
And guess which employer of health practitioners will still mandate COVID-19 vaccinations for employees? Why the government funded public health system Te Whatu Ora.
Te Whatu Ora manages all health services, including hospital and specialist services, and primary and community care. It was established by the Ministry of Health to replace the District Health Boards from July 2022.
On Thursday 15th September Te Whatu Ora sent this email about its vaccination policy to locum agencies seeking to place unvaxxed healthcare staff in NZ hospitals who have desperate staffing shortages.
Here’s the summary.
This email advises you that Te Whatu Ora will be extending the COVID-19 vaccination mandate until a national policy has been agreed.
Here’s the justification.
Te Whatu Ora vaccination policy
As one of Aotearoa’s largest employers of the health and disability workforce and a leader across the sector, Te Whatu Ora has and continues to have an obligation to ensure both the safety and wellbeing of its staff and patients, and we expect that all our staff will take the necessary steps to be up to date with their vaccinations.
Te Whatu Ora still has active vaccination policies across each of the districts and entities, which outline the vaccination requirements for current staff and those who wish to join our organisation. Over the coming couple of months we will be developing a new single vaccination policy which will apply to the whole of our organisation, in partnership with public health, occupational health and our union partners, which will be shared with you all to provide their feedback.
In the meantime, the current policies across the motu will remain in place, with an expectation that all new staff will be up to date with their vaccinations before they join Te Whatu Ora.
See how they do that? The NZ government COVID-19 regulations say no vaccine mandates but the NZ government health service says oh, yes COVID-19 mandates are still in place and will be for some time (read between the lines, they mean forever). So the politicians smile, tell us to respect people’s choices, and gloss over the fact that nothing changes with respect to COVID-19 mandates for health care practitioners in public hospitals.
3. How does having three shots of the Pfizer COVID-19 mRNA vaccine ensure the safety of staff and patients?
It doesn’t. And for many reasons. Here are two of them.
- mRNA COVID-19 vaccinations do not stop infection or transmission of the virus and vaccinated people carry just as much viral load as the unvaccinated, but it takes them longer clear the virus. Healthcare workers can and do transmit virus to each other and to patients.
- The mRNA recipe is for the spike protein of the original Wuhan 2019 strain of the corona virus. Corona viruses mutate rapidly (which is why there have been no successful vaccines against coronaviruses). We are now up to the Omicron variants which have a very different spike protein. Current mRNA vaccines do not offer any protection against Omicron strains. In fact after a few months they have a negative efficacy which means they make a person more likely to get infected with the later strains.
You can read more about this in our article A Brilliant Summary of COVID-19 Vaccine Evidence.
And read Dr Aseem Malhotra’s two recent papers. In the first he reviews the evidence from randomised trials and real world data and concludes that mRNA technology carries a greater risk of serious adverse events than being hospitalised with COVID-19.
In his second paper, Dr Malhotra discusses the reasons why authorities and sections of the medical profession have supported coercive, and misinformed polices such as vaccine mandates and vaccine passports which undermine the principles of ethical evidence-based medical practice and informed consent.
4. Will healthcare workers be able to get healthcare jobs in the private sector?
It depends on whether employers wish to enforce a COVID-19 Vaccine requirement for new staff. This is the advice provided by the government.
If your employees are not covered by the vaccine mandate, you can choose if you want to require your employees to be fully vaccinated as a condition of their employment.
Employers must carry out a health and safety risk assessment and consider all other public health measures they can use to reduce the risk of COVID-19 in their workplace.
Vaccinations can only be used as a measure if the risk of contracting and transmitting COVID-19 at work is higher than it is in the community.
It will probably come down to two factors.
1. Will the Ministry of Health or Te Whata Ora require all external health care providers who contract services to these government organisations to have a COVID-19 vaccination requirements for staff? For example:
– will Radiology Service providers have to have a COVID-19 vax requirement for staff to perform imaging outsourced from Te Whata Ora?
2. If private Health Care providers become so short-staffed that they cannot meet demand for services (hence loss of revenue), will they employ unvaxxed staff? Or only if it does not affect revenue from government contracts? Or they will come up with creative means to having their cake and eating it too?
Last week the Ministry of Heath advised that unvaxxed midwives will receive remuneration for services provided through Section 88. But it is not yet known whether Te Whata Ora will allow unvaxxed midwives to have Access Agreements care for women in labour in public hospitals.
5. Yay, masks are gone right?
No, masks are not gone. You still need to wear them when visiting most healthcare services. This is where the Ministry of Health tells us we must wear a mask. Guidance on infection prevention and control (IPC) practices and personal protective equipment (PPE) in health and disability care settings for COVID-19.
- doctors’ clinics
- pharmacies — but not those inside supermarkets
- community and iwi health providers
- aged care residential facilities
- disability-related residential facilities.
The US CDC have recently updated many recommendations, including “when SARS-CoV-2 Community Transmission levels are not high, healthcare facilities could choose not to require universal source control“. We hope that Te Whatu Ora follow suit sooner rather than later. Perhaps now could even be the time to listen to the experts?
6. Wait a minute. Are you kidding me?
No, not kidding. The MoH thinks it is safe to catch the bus without a mask, go to the supermarket without a mask, got to a pharmacy inside a supermarket without a mask but once we enter a stand-alone pharmacy along with people we just bussed and shopped with we put on a mask? Does this seem like common sense to you? Does this inspire confidence in the people making up the rules?
7. But maybe we have to wear masks because it protects vulnerable people, doesn’t it?
No, it doesn’t. Recently a NZ expert has come out and said that mask wearing and vaccinating children to protect others is useless.
We have published many articles pointing out that masks do not prevent transmission of an aerosol respiratory virus.
We and many others have pointed out that masks which cover our faces and our mouths have had measurably bad effects on children.
We and others have highlighted that the social and psychological consequences of hiding our faces from other people are far reaching and damaging. Humans are social animals. We need to interact with others and communicate to sustain our wellbeing. The reactions of the people we meet provide continuous feedback about ourselves and the impact we are having on our fellow citizens. Read more here.
Does the MoH dismiss these soul damaging consequences of masking as unimportant ‘touchy-feely stuff’? They have condemned our elderly relatives and friends in rest homes, and those in disability-related residential facilities to continue to never see a smile, never give or feel a kiss on their cheek, or feel the face of a loved one pressed against theirs. But it’s all based on ‘science’ for their health, isn’t it?