Teachers who refuse to get a Covid vaccination will barred from entering childcare centres or school grounds after November 15 and will be committing an offence if they do so anyway, it has been confirmed.
The Government had earlier set Monday, November 15, as the date by which all early learning and school teachers must have had their first Pfizer vaccination shot by.
Yet there had been some confusion as to whether teachers who didn't want to have the jab could still continue working in their jobs until January 1, 2022.
That is the date by which all teachers must have had their second jab.
However, the Ministry of Education confirmed today that only teachers who have had at least one jab will be allowed to have contact with children after November 15.
"Staff members who refuse to meet vaccination requirements cannot return to work onsite from November 16, and they will be committing an infringement offence if they do so," it said in reference to early childhood learning centres.
"In this instance you should consult with the staff member to establish why they are not vaccinated, continue to support them to be vaccinated and accommodate alternative working arrangements to the extent that this practicable."
New Zealand and world leading health experts say the Pfizer Covid vaccine is safe and greatly reduces the chances of suffering serious illness or death from the virus.
The Government is also urging all Kiwis to get the vaccine as a way to manage Covid into the future now that it "is in New Zealand to stay", according to Covid Response Minister Chris Hipkins.
It hopes vaccines will help the country move away from lockdowns as a way of controlling Covid's spread.
However, the Pfizer vaccine has not yet been given safety approval for use in children under 12.
The Government said that left children vulnerable to the virus and made it necessary for those working with them to be vaccinated.
Hipkins made the announcement on October 11, saying hundreds of thousands of education and health staff - including teachers, GPs, pharmacists and nurses - needed to be fully vaccinated or face losing their jobs.
The requirement to be vaccinated applied to any teachers who may come into contact with children at a childcare centre or school.
"This includes all workers, whether they are paid, volunteers or students on placement, directly employed or contracted through a third party."
However, the vaccination requirement doesn't apply to those who only work remotely,
those who only work on-site when children are not present, such as at the weekend, parents just dropping off or picking up their children, or playgroups.
The Ministry of Education today recommended that educators prepare for the November 15 deadline by supporting their staff to get vaccinated, including during working hours.
If staff had to take time during work hours to get a vaccination, it recommended that they not be recorded as absent, given "being vaccinated is now a normal part of a staff member's requirement to undertake their work".
The ministry recommended that education employers continue talking to staff about the benefits of being vaccinated.
It also said educators needed to notify all staff as well as contractors, tradespeople and unpaid workers coming onto sites with children of their duty to be vaccinated.
Employers also had to maintain records of the vaccination status of all staff,
"Given the sensitivity of the information being collected, careful consideration will need to be given to ensuring unauthorised access to the information is not able to occur," the ministry said.
Employers are not required to record the vaccination status of contract workers, such as cleaners, who are employed by other businesses, however.
It is the responsibility of the other business to ensure its workers are vaccinated.
Staff cannot refuse to give details about their vaccination status.
"If the staff member does not provide you with evidence of their vaccination you must assume they are not vaccinated," the ministry said.
"It is important to remember that you cannot share a staff member's vaccination status with others without their permission."
The ministry said staff members with physical or other needs that a "suitably qualified health practitioner in the course of examining the person determines would make it inappropriate for the person to be vaccinated, that person will be exempt".
They can then carry on working without being vaccinated.
"We expect the number of people who are exempted from the vaccination requirement to be very low as the Pfizer vaccination has proven to be safe for the very large majority of people," the ministry said.
Staff given exemptions must provide their employers with a copy on or before November 15.