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COVID-19 vaccination: frequently asked questions

This is a working document and will be updated as more questions and answers arise.

This is a complex issue, and we may not always have answers immediately, but we will do our best to communicate updates frequently.

What is Massey’s position on vaccinations?

Massey has considered both the public health risk of COVID-19 (including the Delta variant) and the impacts of this risk to the university community. In light of those considerations and to minimise the risk of harm to our community the university proposes to make COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for those students, staff, contractors and visitors who access our campuses and sites.

This requirement would apply to all in-person learning, teaching and research spaces and activities such as workshops, lectures, labs, in-person fieldwork and interviews, tutorials, meetings, noho marae, and in-person assessments and exams. It would also apply to in-person services such as libraries, cafes, student accommodation, gyms, and in-person counselling and health services, from 14 February 2022.

Massey is currently consulting with staff, students, partners, and mana whenua on this proposal. We welcome your feedback.

Who would the COVID-19 vaccination requirement apply to?

We will be confirming the details over the coming months. If the recommendation is adopted it is likely to apply to any person physically coming onto a university campus or other work site, and/or taking part in face-to-face university-led activities. This is likely to include:

  • Students enrolled in courses that have any in-person teaching or learning requirement, including work placements, block courses, examinations contact courses
  • Events and social activities such as graduation and orientation
  • Staff (including contracted staff)
  • Contractors who provide services to the university or supply goods in person
  • Visitors to campus or participating in university events (such as graduation ceremonies)
  • Student residential accommodation

The only exceptions will be people who have a valid medical exemption.

What has the government mandated?

The Government has mandated vaccinations for the health and disability sector and some parts of the education sector (early childhood and schools).

The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 which requires workers within specific groups to be vaccinated now includes workers in the education, Health and disability sectors. For Education this means people who carry out work at or for early childhood education centres and schools or home-based education and care services.

In relation to the health and disability sector workers, this includes general practitioners, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics, and all healthcare workers in sites where vulnerable patients are treated.

A number of Massey staff and students are subject to this requirement as they provide such services from a Massey campus, provide services to these sectors, or may attend these workplaces as part of their course (i.e. clinical placement in a hospital, or teacher training).

Further work groups are likely to be added to this mandatory Health Order over time.

General vaccination questions and resources

Will medical exemptions be accepted?

Yes, Massey will follow the Ministry of Health’s guidance and requirements for medical exemptions, should the proposal be adopted.

How will Massey ensure that people on-site are fully vaccinated?

We will be confirming the details over the coming months and undertaking some high-level planning and preparatory work in the interim to ensure appropriate measures can be implemented by 14 February 2022 should the recommendation be adopted.

Massey will be reviewing the implementation of similar policies at other universities both here in Aotearoa and in Australia in particular. We also await further detail on the Government’s vaccine certificate and COVID- Protection Framework.

Why is consultation needed?

Consulting with staff, students, mana whenua and partners to hear their views is an important part of the way we work at Massey. The university wants to hear views from everyone within our Massey community which will be considered during our decision-making process.

What happens once consultation closes?

Consultation will be open until 5pm Tuesday 30 November. Following this, Massey’s Senior Leadership Team will consider the feedback and make a decision. We will communicate with students and staff in early December.

What happens if I have a health condition and I am not sure whether I should be vaccinated?

The COVID-19 website has advice on different health conditions and what to do. If you are in doubt, please speak to your doctor or a health professional.

Should the proposal be adopted, the only exceptions will be people who have a valid medical exemption from the Ministry of Health.

Where can I get vaccinated?

If you are aged 12 or over, you can book your free COVID-19 vaccination now. It does not matter what your visa or citizenship status is.

You can book on behalf of someone else — or help them with their booking — if you have their permission.

Where can I find out more information about the vaccines?

Here is a list of credible and reliable sources of information on COVID-19. Be mindful that not everything you see on social media is reliable information.

How does the university’s COVID-19 response align with our Te Tiriti o Waitangi priorities?

Central to the university’s COVID-19 approach is the overarching commitment and responsibilities that we uphold in honouring Te Tiriti o Waitangi. That means acknowledging longstanding systemic health inequities encountered by Māori and importantly, ensuring that our response provides the best possible level of COVID safety for Māori including expert COVID information and guidance for Māori. In terms of Māori student and staff support, also accounting for other impacts of COVID across other important areas, for instance potential impact upon studies.

We align our information, advice and guidance for Māori students and staff with that of the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Te Rōpu Whakakaupapa Mate Urutā (National Māori Pandemic Advisory Group), Māori Health leadership teams, as well as Iwi and Māori Organisations leading the COVID response for Māori. The Office of the Deputy Vice Chancellor Māori continues to seek daily updated advice specific to COVID safety for Māori – this includes at iwi, regional and community levels. Additional to the latest Government Advice and Guidance, current Legislative Frameworks and HSWA Guidelines, we will continually seek to ensure that COVID Safety for Māori is prioritised and consistent with current Māori Health advice and guidance.

Considerations for students

I am a distance student and do not need to come to campus, what does this proposal mean for me?

Distance students who have no need to be on campus (e.g. no contact course) and who do not wish to come to campus to access services (e.g. Library) may [DL1] not need to be vaccinated.  As a distance student you are an important part of our Massey whānau. If you do not come to campus but still wish to supply feedback, please do so.

If this proposal is adopted, can I study internally and just not come to campus?

Most Massey courses are blended but if you are taking an internal or distance paper and need to be on campus to meet the learning objectives you will need to be vaccinated. This includes examinations.

If the proposal is adopted, will I still be able to access student services if I am not vaccinated?

Many of our student services are available virtually but if you are not vaccinated you would not be able to access on-campus services.

If the proposal is adopted and I am a distance student but have a workplace placement course component, do I need to be vaccinated?

Massey will require that all students attending third-party sites as part of their course requirements will need to be fully vaccinated. Many workplaces have this as a requirement already or will covered by the mandatory vaccination health order.

Under the Health and Safety at Work Act (HSWA) 2015 students (and visitors) are deemed to be ‘Other Persons’. ‘Other Persons’ under the HSWA are required to:

  1. Take reasonable care of their own health and safety,
  2. Take reasonable care that others are not harmed and by something they do, or do not do,
  3. Comply, as far as they are reasonably able, with Massey’s reasonable health and safety instructions that are given so that Massey can comply with the HSWA and regulations

It is important to note that Massey must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, as its primary duty of care, that health and safety of workers, and that ‘Other Persons’ are not put at risk by its work. This includes reducing the risk of transmission and infection by its students to other places of work while undertaking their course-related activities.

For some courses a virtual work placement may be an option.

If the proposal is adopted and I am a research student and rarely come or need to be on campus, do I need to be vaccinated?

Yes, even those only on campus very occasionally will need to be vaccinated.

I am in student accommodation; will I need to be vaccinated to live in the halls?

Yes.

What if I am part-way through a programme and cannot complete my study by distance and choose not to be vaccinated?

We strongly encourage you to get vaccinated so you can complete your studies, but would work with you to review your options. Further information on whom to contact if this is your particular situation will be communicated following the final decision in early December.

Are there some courses that already require students to be vaccinated for COVID-19?

Yes. The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 which requires workers within specific groups to be vaccinated now includes workers in the education, Health and disability sectors. For Education this means people who carry out work at or for early childhood education centres and schools or home-based education and care services.

In relation to the health and disability sector workers, this includes general practitioners, pharmacists, community health nurses, midwives, paramedics, and all healthcare workers in sites where vulnerable patients are treated.

Some Massey staff and students are subject to this requirement as they provide such services from a Massey campus, provide services to these sectors, or may attend these workplaces as part of their course (i.e. clinical placement in a hospital, or teacher training).

If you are enrolled in courses that are impacted by this mandate, you should already have received requirements from your course coordinator. If you are not yet enrolled but are considering a course where vaccinations are mandatory, you will be required to provide information on your vaccination status as part of your enrolment. These subject areas include:

  • Health science
  • Sport and Exercise science
  • Occupational health
  • Nursing
  • Public health
  • Mental health and addiction
  • Human health
  • Bioscience
  • Psychology
  • Health service management
  • Nutrition
  • Social Work

I’m worried that my choice to not be vaccinated will encourage bullying – what should I do?

Massey University is committed to providing an environment which is free from harassment, where students are treated with dignity and respect. The university has a zero tolerance for harassment and considers any form of harassment to be unacceptable. If you are experiencing bullying or harassment, we have staff ready to help.

I feel overwhelmed with all the discussions around COVID-19 and vaccinations, what support is available?

If you need support or to talk to someone, Massey has free and confidential counselling services on all of our campuses, and for students who study online.

Advice and resources for staff

I feel overwhelmed with all the discussions around COVID-19 and vaccinations, what support is available?

Staff can make use of Employee Assistant Programme services, which is free and confidential.

I am vaccinated and do not want to be on campus with people who are not, what should I do?

This is a complex issue. If you are immune-compromised or are worried about this, please discuss this with your manager to determine a plan that works for you and your team.

If the recommendation is adopted, students, staff, visitors and contractors will need to be fully vaccinated if they want to come on campus or on any of the university’s sites.

I’m worried that my choice to not be vaccinated will encourage bullying – what should I do?

Massey University is committed to providing a work environment for its staff which is free from harassment, where staff are treated with dignity and respect. The university has zero tolerance for harassment and considers any form of harassment to be unacceptable. If you are experiencing bullying or harassment, please speak to your manager, an HR advisor or log it on MasseySafe.

Mandatory vaccination sectors

Education sector including early childhood education, primary and secondary education

On Monday 11 October 2021, the Government advised that all staff and workers who may have contact with children and students in schools, early childhood education centres and kura throughout the country (regardless of COVID-19 alert level) will be required to have a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 15 November and be fully vaccinated by 1 January 2022.

From 1 January 2022, education services must only allow those that are fully vaccinated to provide onsite services during opening hours. This means vaccinations are mandatory for all those working onsite including teachers, relief teachers, trainee teachers, casual staff, administration staff, caretakers, cleaners, OSCAR providers and hostel staff – whether direct employees or employees of a contractor. It also applies to unpaid workers, such as volunteers (including parent volunteers) and any members of the community who are on site at the school, early education centre or kura.

Does this apply to me?

Yes - if you are a staff member who spends time in schools, early education centres or kura.

Yes - if you are a student undertaking study in any of the following offerings:

  • Bachelor of Arts (Education major)
  • Master of Teaching and Learning
  • Te Aho Tātairangi and Te Aho Paerewaa
  • Graduate Diploma of Teaching

Or any other courses that require placements to be conducted at a school, early education centres or kura.

Will I be given time off to get vaccinated?

Staff and tertiary students who fall in this group are encouraged to book vaccinations. Staff are not required to take personal leave to get vaccinated. For students, it is encouraged to get this done outside of class time, so you do not miss out on important learnings.

I live in an Alert Level 3 area – what does this mean for me?

Everyone working in a school, early education centres or kura in Auckland and other Alert Level 3 regions will be required to return a negative COVID-19 result ahead of returning physically to a school, regardless of vaccination status.

I live in an Alert Level 3 area but am not yet vaccinated – what does this mean for me?

When schools, early childhood centres and kura are back to regular teaching in Alert Level 3 areas, tests will be required on a weekly basis for all staff who are not fully vaccinated. Once a staff member becomes fully vaccinated, regular testing will no longer be required for them to continue to work onsite.

How do I prove that I have been vaccinated?

Schools and kura may accept any proof which assures them that the staff member is fully vaccinated or has received a negative test result. This may be an email, immunisation card, a MoH Vaccination Certificate or text message that the staff member has received from their vaccine or medical provider, the Book My Vaccine website or the My COVID Record website.

Will my vaccination and testing data be kept private?

Schools and kura in Alert Level 3 regions are required to keep a record of each person’s testing status, including when they were last tested and confirmation that the result was negative. Schools and kura are required to do this in line with the Privacy Act and given the sensitivity of the information being collected, schools and kura should ensure that unauthorised access to the information is not able to occur.

Discussions between key workforce representatives and the Government will continue in order to test longer term solutions.

Health and disability sector

A Government amendment to the COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 will require health and disability sector workers to be fully vaccinated by 1 December 2021.

This includes:

  • Regulated professions currently registered under the HPCA regulations
  • Non-regulated professions in the following healthcare settings:
    • Aged Residential Care Facilities
    • Home and Community Care Services
    • Kaupapa Māori Health Providers
    • Pacific Health Providers
    • Non-Government organisations who provide health services
  • Roles undertaken by people who:
  • Are in frequent face-to-face contact or are in close proximity to healthcare workers providing a health service
  • Work where a health service is being provided
  • Do not necessarily provide a health service, but their role requires frequent contact/engagement with those providing health services and is considered tied to a role within a healthcare setting.

Does this apply to me?

Yes – if you work in the health and disability sector and are considered a high-risk role, or work in a health and disability setting that requires regular close contact with patients or other high-risk workers.