One of the country's leading epidemiologists says Northland's local government leaders should all be fully vaccinated against Covid-19.
Professor Michael Baker said every Northland local government elected member – like their counterparts throughout New Zealand - should be fully vaccinated against the virus.
Baker, a member of the Government's Covid-19 technical advisory group and a public health physician and professor of public health at the University of Otago in Wellington, described councillors and community board members as community leaders.
His comments - which he said applied to local government elected representatives nationwide - come at a time when Northland's Omicron cases continue to climb.
The Government has stopped short of mandating Covid-19 vaccinations for local government elected representatives.
But its call for vaccination continues.
Vaccination protected representatives, their fellow councillors and community board members, and the wider Northland population as they went about their democratic roles.
Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta said vaccination was an important part of the public health response to Covid-19 - especially as Omicron community cases had emerged.
"I want to continue to encourage everyone to get vaccinated and boosted as soon as they're eligible, including those in the local government sector," she said.
Former Whangārei District councillor Robin Lieffering said the lack of a vaccine mandate didn't change the expectation of residents and ratepayers that local government elected representatives are fully vaccinated, and the status of which made public.
Lieffering said all local government elected representatives needed to be fully vaccinated.
"They are leaders in our community and should be setting good examples. Vaccination is what the community needs if we want to really be safe."
She said ratepayers deserved to know whether those they had elected were vaccinated.
"They have a unique role as government locally. Councillors should be open and proud of their vaccination status, making this public.
"They are important role models in the push to get our community fully vaccinated."
Elected representatives who were still unvaccinated needed encouragement, Lieffering said.
And councils with unvaccinated elected representatives needed to find ways for them to be part of the democratic process.
"We so need everybody to participate in decision making," Lieffering said.
According to Mahuta, councils had processes in place to manage unvaccinated elected representatives.
"Local authorities have developed their own policies to manage access to council premises and facilities during the covid pandemic, including access by elected members."