Waikato DHB inappropriately catches staff vaccination records – union

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A union says it is “very disappointing” that Waikato DHB is inappropriately playing “catching up” to find out which staff have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

The Department of Health recently granted Waikato District Board of Health, as well as three Auckland DHBs and the Capital and Coast DHBs, an exemption to access immunization status for all staff. as part of the Covid-19 vaccination registry, after consulting with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner.

This means that DHBs now have the right to know which staff have and have not been vaccinated against Covid19 – without the consent of their employees.

In an email to DHB, the ministry said Auckland and Waikato DHBs did not have readily available staff vaccine information, and that this had “presented an obstacle to the rapid and safe deployment of the staff where it is most needed in the current Covid-19 response “.

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There are 68 new cases of Covid-19 in the community, it was announced Thursday, with Wellington’s two new cases being identified as family contacts of previous cases.

A ministry spokesperson said the recent exemption was granted because it was “essential” for DHBs to understand the immunization status of their staff, so they can quickly deploy staff during the outbreak and manage the risk. of spread to the community.

But Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Sarah Dalton said it was “very disappointing” that DHBs were catching up with “basic privacy rights concessions.”

DHB should have asked staff for consent to give their Covid-19 vaccine status at the start of deployment in March, she said.

“We fully understand why it is useful for hospitals to know who is vaccinated – but all staff have basic rights over their own medical information,” said Dalton.

Sarah Dalton, executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, said DHBs were catching up to get vital information through

Provided

Sarah Dalton, executive director of the Association of Salaried Medical Specialists, said DHBs were catching up to get vital information through “a concession to basic rights to privacy.”

National health spokesperson Dr Shane Reti blamed the ministry, saying information on the Covid vaccination registry should have been shared with DHBs from the start.

“It’s disappointing that we’re so late to have these discussions here now… it compromises our response now.”

DHB workers in New Zealand must prove to their employers their immunity status – through a laboratory test – against hepatitis B. So there is a “precedent and a protocol” for sharing information about health, he said.

Waikato DHB said Thing about 95 percent of its workforce is vaccinated.

But until very recently, the organization didn’t seem to have a more detailed list of who was vaccinated and who was not.

Thing saw emails sent to all staff on August 16, followed by a follow-up on August 23, asking them to fill out a questionnaire giving their immunization status.

The email stated that vaccine information, if provided with consent, would be held by DHB’s occupational health and safety team and would only be shared with the employee’s supervisor. .

It was asked to assess the level of vaccination within the DHB, to identify possible obstacles for staff to access the vaccine and to identify where “alternative working arrangements may be necessary to ensure the safety of our staff. , our patients and our visitors ”.

A Waikato DHB staff member, who Thing agreed not to name, said August was the first time management has requested that their immunization status be written down.

Reti said mid-August was “far too late” for authorities to know who had been vaccinated, given that Delta’s current outbreak was first reported on August 17.

A few years ago, the Waikato District Board of Health, under the leadership of Nigel Murray, took a hard-hitting approach to flu shots for staff – asking them to get the shot or forcing them to wear masks if they didn’t.

Waikato DHB Hospital and Community Services Executive Director Chris Lowry said DHB did not have a list of those who were or were not vaccinated in high-risk areas.

Kelly Hodel / Stuff

Waikato DHB Hospital and Community Services Executive Director Chris Lowry said DHB did not have a list of those who were or were not vaccinated in high-risk areas.

This jab or mask policy was later abandoned in 2018, as it was deemed ineffective in increasing staff vaccination rates.

Reti said Thing he believed health workers should be “encouraged” to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, rather than forced. He suggested that healthcare workers who have refused vaccination should be moved to low-risk areas of the workforce.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins did not rule out making compulsory vaccination for health workers, who come into contact with Covid-19, but compulsory vaccination was a “last resort”.

Thing recently asked Chris Lowry of Waikato DHB if there was a shortage of vaccinated staff in areas at high risk for DHB.

“I don’t have that information,” Lowry said.

“Clearly, we want to make sure that all staff working in high risk areas are vaccinated. “

“It’s about encouraging staff, we have to clearly respect individual choices, but it’s about encouraging staff and making sure that we make it easier for staff to access these vaccinations.”

Waikato DHB was approached for further comment but did not respond by the deadline.


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