Mandatory COVID-19 vaccination for midwives
On Monday 11 October 2021, the Government announced that it is extending mandatory vaccinations to workers in the health and disability sector, this includes midwives. The Order came into effect at 11.59pm on 25 October 2021.
This means that all midwives must have their COVID-19 vaccinations by the following times:
- Receive the first dose by 15 November 2021
- Be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022
Orders mandating vaccination are made by the Minister for COVID-19 response under the COVID-19 Public Health Response Act 2021.
Midwives must follow the laws of Aotearoa New Zealand and it is their responsibility to comply with the Order. Unless they have a medical exemption, midwives who have not received their first dose of vaccine will not be able to practise from 11.59pm on 15 November 2021.
The Council’s Position
Before this announcement, the Council expected midwives to take the opportunity to be vaccinated unless this is medically contra-indicated. Midwives have an ethical and professional obligation to protect and promote the health of wāhine and whānau and vaccination has a crucial role to play in reducing the community risk of acquiring and spreading COVID-19. The Council understands that many midwives have already taken to the opportunity to be vaccinated. Vaccination of health professionals is not a new issue.
The Council’s role is to protect the health and safety of the public by making sure midwives are fit and competent to practise their profession. Vaccination is one way that midwives protect wāhine and their pēpi.
On 28 October 2021 the Council advised midwives that it had taken the position that writing an exemption for the COVID-19 vaccine is outside of the scope of practice of a midwife. This means that midwives cannot write exemptions for vaccinations.
Your right to receive good information
As part of their degree qualification midwives must complete education in science, research and vaccination. Midwives must continue to learn and develop this knowledge throughout their careers. The Council expects that midwives will provide wāhine and whānau with evidence based advice and information about the COVID-19 vaccinations. The Ministry of Health actively encourages pregnant women to be vaccinated as they are vulnerable to contacting COVID-19. Further information can be found here. Unvaccinated pregnant women and birthing people are at increased risk of serious complications if they contract COVID-19. Recent evidence from the UK shows increased mortality and morbidity with the non-vaccinated pregnant and birthing population.
The Council actively supports midwives to enable informed decision making by wāhine and birthing people and respects the individual’s right to have their own opinion. However, it is the Council’s view that, during a pandemic, there is no place for anti-vaccination messages in professional practice, nor any promotion of anti-vaccination claims on social media or advertising by midwives.
Midwives have a role in providing evidence based advice and information about COVID-19 and all other vaccinations to pregnant and postpartum wāhine and others. As consumers of health services you have the right to receive information that a reasonable consumer, in that consumer’s circumstances, would expect to receive. (Right 6, Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights).
The Council has and will continue to act if it receives complaints about midwives promoting anti-vaccination information or misinformation. Actions taken can include providing the midwife with more education, requiring them to undergo a competence review, or referral to a professional conduct committee to investigate matters. If you have a concern about a midwife please click here.
Ministry of Health statement on the management of unvaccinated individuals in healthcare settings
Ministry of Health - Covid-19 vaccines
New Zealand College of Midwives - COVID-19: Information for Women
The Whole Truth
World Health Organization - Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public: Mythbusters
Information correct as at 03 November 2021