The Government has extended its Covid-19 vaccine mandate to include people working in prisons across the country.
The Department of Corrections' national commissioner Rachel Leota said many of those in prison are most vulnerable to Covid-19 because of the transmission that could occur in residential facilities with large numbers of people living in close proximity.
"We have a duty of care to the men and women we manage in prisons, our staff, and our communities," Leota said.
Since March last year, there have been eight cases of Covid-19 in prison with zero transmission.
Leota said mandating vaccination for prisons staff "provides an additional layer of protection".
On Monday, Cabinet extended the existing Covid-19 Public Health Response (Vaccinations) Order 2021 to include people who work in prisons, following last week's vaccine mandate for workers in the health and disability, and education, sectors.
The mandate will apply to all staff who work in prisons including contracted providers, psychologists and health service staff.
However, the requirement does not include visiting family, legal advisers and the Ombudsman.
This order means staff must have received their first dose of the vaccine by October 30 and both doses by December 1.
While Corrections acknowledged the short timeframe, Leota said more than 80 per cent of their frontline staff had received their first dose as of October 11 and more than 65 per cent were fully vaccinated.
In May, Corrections launched a vaccination programme to encourage staff to get the jab. Information about vaccine safety and effectiveness, conversations with health staff, pamphlets and other materials had been provided to prison staff.
Local and national initiatives have also included discussions with influential leaders in prisons and a drive-through vaccination clinic at Rimutaka Prison.
Last month, a prisoner who arrived at an Auckland jail attended court because there was no technology available for him to appear remotely, and later tested positive for Covid-19.
The prisoner then travelled to a house in the northern Hauraki district where a small cluster grew. Some household contacts in the Kaiaua-Whakatīwai area tested positive.
These areas were south of the Auckland boundary, and the new cases forced the region into a snap lockdown.