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Open letter to Minister Hipkins

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Hon Chris Hipkins

Minister for Covid response

8 February 2022

By email:

Tēnā koe Minister Hipkins,

The New Zealand College of Midwives (the College) is the professional association for midwifery in Aotearoa and represents almost every practising midwife in Aotearoa. The College has been proactive in promoting Covid-19 vaccination to midwives and pregnant women and people throughout 2021 and considers that vaccination is our best line of defence against Covid-19.

As you will be aware, maternity services are under considerable strain, with a shortage of full time equivalent midwives to fill rostered shifts in maternity facilities and a shortage of community-based LMC midwives in all regions, affecting some DHBs more than others. The COVID-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021, while understandable, resulted in the immediate loss of a small proportion of midwives from the workforce at a time when need was increasing. As workforce shortages are exacerbated with the spread of Omicron, we need as many midwives as possible to be available to work in our hospitals and communities.

On Friday 4 February 2022 Medsafe granted provisional approval of Nuvaxovid COVID-19 Vaccine with Matrix-M Adjuvant (Novavax). The College has heard from a number of unvaccinated or partially vaccinated midwives that they would be willing to accept vaccination with Novavax if and when it becomes available. Some of these midwives had significant adverse reactions to their first dose of Pfizer/BioNTech Cominarty, but did not meet the criteria for a vaccine exemption.

The College therefore calls on the government and the Covid Vaccine Technical Advisory Group to urgently approve Novavax for use among those health workers who are covered by the mandate, and expedite the availability of the vaccine to those who are yet to have completed the primary course or received their booster.

Alison Eddy

Chief Executive

New Zealand College of Midwives


Cc:  Dr Ian Town, Chief Science Advisor, Ministry of Health, Chair CVTAG

Hon Andrew Little, Minister of Health

Hon Ayesha Verrall, Associate Minister of Health