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Source: Auckland Council

Auckland Council has updated its assessment of the risks to its people, elected members, customers and those that work for us from COVID-19 and is proposing changes to its approach to employee vaccination.

The updated draft risk assessment has informed proposed changes to the policy for council employees, which will, in turn, prompt a decision on vaccine pass requirements at council sites and facilities.

Chief Executive Jim Stabback says each piece of work is inter-related but hinges upon the risk assessment, and the council’s leadership team is considering changes to its overall approach to vaccination in an integrated way.

“We’ve started with reviewing the risk assessment, which determines the current risk associated with the virus across the whole organisation and assesses the effectiveness of our control mechanisms – one of which is vaccination,” he says.

Based on the updated risk assessment, the council has proposed no longer requiring mandatory vaccination for its people, however full vaccination remains strongly encouraged.

“In developing this updated proposal, we looked carefully at the current risk posed by COVID-19 and considered updated advice from public health experts and information provided by the Ministry of Health and other agencies. We also took into consideration updated legal advice and alignment with the government’s approach.

“We consider that vaccination could remain the primary control for COVID-19, but in a more limited way than before, and we could place a greater reliance on other controls such as rapid antigen testing, hygiene controls, capacity limits, mask wearing, physical distancing and working from home to manage any potential risks of transmission and the severity of infection,” says Mr Stabback.

Seeking feedback before confirming any changes

This proposal has been put to all Auckland Council employees for feedback. With only one week before the government’s next changes to the COVID Protection Framework come into effect, timeframes for feedback, final review and confirmation of a revised approach to vaccinations for council employees are tight.

“In order to provide certainty for our people quickly, and complete reviews of vaccination requirements for our elected members, customers and contractors, we are working at pace,” says Mr Stabback. “We plan on having all policies and guidelines updated and ready to go on 5 April.”

Vaccine pass requirements at council sites and facilities

Currently, vaccine passes are required to enter staffed council sites and facilities like libraries, pools, gyms and service centres. With the removal of government-mandated use of vaccine passes, the council must consider whether to continue to use this as a control measure against the spread of COVID-19.

“Once we’ve had feedback from our people on the requirements for staff – and remembering that a significant number of our 7700-strong workforce have customer-facing roles – we will confirm whether there is an ongoing need to use the vaccine pass system,” says Mr Stabback.

Any changes to vaccine pass requirements at council sites and facilities will be widely communicated once a decision is made. 

Guidelines for elected members

At the same time we work through our updated approach for our people, we’re also seeking feedback from elected members on a proposal to update the existing guidelines for them around access to our offices and meeting spaces.

As with our proposal for our people, we’re proposing to move to a position where vaccination is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory, in order for elected members to access our offices and meeting spaces, with greater emphasis placed on other control measures.

Read the council’s current position on COVID-19 vaccination here.

MIL OSI