Government Exempted Medical Staff From COVID Jabs While Mandating Public Vaccinations: New Zealand OIA Reveals

New Zealand allowed over 11,000 of its key health staff to get COVID-19 vaccination exemptions while urging the public to get vaccinated.
Government Exempted Medical Staff From COVID Jabs While Mandating Public Vaccinations: New Zealand OIA Reveals
Jessie Zhang

The New Zealand Ministry of Health allowed thousands of its health workers to receive COVID-19 vaccination exemptions while simultaneously encouraging the public to get vaccinated, a report has found.

An Official Information Act (OIA) inquiry was made about exemptions approved in 2021 when they were available for those not vaccinated against COVID-19. The OIA in New Zealand functions similarly to the U.S. Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), providing the public with access to government information.
A total of 478 exemption applications were received between Nov. 13, 2021, and Sept. 25, 2022, with 103 applications granted, covering approximately 11,005 workers, NZ Health’s outbreak response director Matt Hannant replied. A follow-up correspondence confirmed that all of the 11,005 exempt workers were from health-related industries.
He noted that the exact number of workers couldn’t be estimated, as an organization could submit an application to cover more than one worker.

Abide by the Narrative

Health workers were also expected to avoid making statements that might be contrary to official narratives.
According to a March 9, 2021, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency statement, health workers must not promote “anti-vaccination statements or health advice” that contradict the “best available scientific evidence.”

The statement has been criticized by human rights lawyer Peter Fam.

“The best available scientific evidence doesn’t exist. It’s always changing. That’s the nature of science and the nature of evidence,” he told The Epoch Times in an earlier interview.

Vaccine Exemptions Refused to Public

Under New Zealand’s former Director-General of Health Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, who worked closely with former Prime Ministers Jacinda Ardern and Chris Hipkins, vaccine exemptions were denied to severely injured individuals, with officials continuing to recommend second doses and boosters.
The ministry refused an Auckland man’s exemption request despite significant health changes following his first dose of COVID-19 vaccination, according to an NZ Herald report. He experienced a 40 percent increase in his resting heart rate to more than 90 beats per minute and lost mobility due to muscular inflammation.

His general practitioner referred him to a cardiologist who advised it was possible he developed myocarditis—inflammation of the heart—following his first vaccination.

According to the report, Dr. Bloomfield refused the man’s exemption without further explanation despite the man’s support from two medical professionals.

“I am not satisfied, based on the evidence or other information provided, that you meet the specified COVID-19 vaccination exemption criteria,” Dr. Bloomfield allegedly wrote in a letter.

A ministry spokesperson acknowledged the man’s desired outcome hadn’t been achieved but wouldn’t comment further, saying it was inappropriate to comment publicly on a person’s medical circumstances.

In a similar case, Sue McIntyre requested an exemption after developing Bell’s palsy, a usually temporary facial paralysis, following her first COVID-19 vaccine dose, 1News reported.

Auckland allergy specialist and clinical immunologist Rohan Ameratunga wrote a letter stating he had “reviewed” Ms. McIntyre’s case and “would agree she should not have a second vaccine at this stage.”

But Dr. Bloomfield declined her application, offering the AstraZeneca vaccine as an alternative for her second dose or “supervised administration.”

The ministry’s letters did not offer any explanation for why Ms. McIntyre’s exemption was denied, simply stating that “there are only rare circumstances a person is unable to receive the Pfizer vaccine.”

Despite Ms. McIntyre’s waiving her privacy and giving permission for the ministry to discuss her case, the ministry cited the Privacy Act and refused to answer 1News’ questions about her application.

​​In a statement to 1News, a ministry spokesperson said “robust systems and processes” were in place to assess exemption applications, which were overseen by a Temporary Medical Exemption Panel.

“The panel includes medical and nurse practitioners with significant expertise and a Māori health leader,” the statement read.

“This includes a Clinical Immunologist and Allergist, Consultant Neurologist, Clinical Pharmacologist, and Endocrinologist amongst other primary health care specialists.”