The New Zealand Defence Force will today start its own vaccination programme for uniformed personnel as part of the Government’s efforts to combat COVID-19, Defence Minister Peeni Henare said.
Vaccination of the uniformed workforce already on duty in the Managed Isolation and Quarantine Facilities (MIQFs) started last month as part of the effort to vaccinate the whole border workforce.
As part of the response to the pandemic at the border, more than 1000 NZDF personnel are undertaking duties at the MIQFs and other COVID-19 regional and national headquarters at any one time.
“Because the Defence Force regularly rotates personnel through the MIQFs, it is not the same 1000 people, and it therefore makes sense to vaccinate the entire deployable military workforce,” Peeni Henare said.
“Besides the MIQF duties, NZDF personnel are required to maintain readiness for other tasks such as short-notice domestic or international deployments. The NZDF also operates at the border through running its own airports and port, and many personnel live and mix communally on camps and bases.
“For all these reasons, it makes sense to vaccinate the whole uniformed force, numbering about 9500 personnel.
An example of the readiness requirements for international deployments is the possibility the Defence Force may have to respond to a natural disaster in the Pacific, such as a Tropical Cyclone.
“Nobody wants to spread COVID-19 to countries in the Pacific that may be free of it. Vaccinating the deployable military force is a prudent move.
The NZDF’s vaccination programme will be delivered by its own Defence Health organisation, and starts today at most military camps and bases around the country.
“The Defence Force has played an important part in supporting the Government’s response to COVID-19, which aims at protecting New Zealanders. Getting its own uniformed workforce vaccinated adds another layer of defence to that protection,” Peeni Henare said.