Firefighters will soon have to be vaccinated in order to attend jobs, but the mandatory order hasn't gone down well with some who say they are prepared to walk away from the jobs they love.
It comes as the number of police officers now partially vaccinated edges closer to 90 per cent, despite staff not being subject to the mandate at this stage. And, St John says the "vast majority" of its staff are fully vaccinated.
About 13,000 Fire and Emergency staff are the latest employees to come under the Public Health Response Order which requires them to have had one vaccination by November 15 and a second by January 1.
Like those in other mandated sectors, such as education and health, staff who don't get their jabs will no longer be able to continue in their current roles once the deadline passes. Some teachers have already left their jobs as a result.
It is unclear how many firefighters are yet to be vaccinated as the organisation says it is still trying to collate that information - and work through the implications of what will happen to those who don't comply with the new mandate.
Despite vaccination rates not being available the Herald understands there are many who are hesitant to get a jab. And, some are so unhappy about being given an ultimatum that they are willing to lose their careers over it.
"There are definitely career firefighters prepared to walk away from the career they love," a source told the Herald.
The source is aware of around 100 colleagues who he says aren't against vaccination but don't feel comfortable about getting this one because of how new it is.
He says they are all incredibly stressed about the predicament they are now in and it's putting pressure on not only them but the families they are trying to support.
"It doesn't seem right that in order to go to work you have to have something injected into your body. Virtually everyone I have spoken to has had other vaccinations, they are just unable to determine the long-term safety of this one - that's the residing theme."
NZPFU secretary Wattie Watson said many of the union members are already vaccinated but there are some who have not yet had a jab for various reasons.
"It's a hugely stressful time for anyone covered by the mandatory order but in particular for the firefighters who have devoted their lives to serve the community and respond to the community and look after people, which they have been doing - including providing medical response throughout the pandemic.
So, for those that have been told they can't respond as firefighters for the duration of the order, it is devastating for some of them."
Watson said some of the union members are yet to decide what to do but others have already indicated they won't be getting a jab and work was now underway to see what other roles might be available for them come November 15.
"Fenz needs them, the community needs them, we just need to find some alternative options to look after them."
Fire and Emergency National Commander Kerry Gregory said the mandatory order applies to any roles where a person is within two meters of a health practitioner, providing health services to the public for more than 15 minutes or where their work requires contact with children or students.
He said that included firefighters because they work alongside medical practitioners at incidents and go into schools when responding to emergencies and to provide fire safety education.
"The Government has put this requirement into law, and Fire and Emergency must comply with it. We have now begun securely collecting vaccination status information to comply with the Order.
"Unions and Associations are working with us and we will continue to keep our people updated as we work through the implications of this mandate."
While vaccination is not yet mandatory for police officers a spokesperson said the police executive is in discussions with the Government about it.
"Given the Government's clear expectation regarding vaccination, Police wants to ensure the highest levels of protection against the spread of the virus. This work is a priority as many of our staff have daily interactions with a wide cross-section of people, particularly those who are most vulnerable."
The spokesperson said there are also ongoing and regular implications for people in stations, service centres, and risks for the whānau and friends of officers.
Vaccination rates for all police staff currently sit at 87.4 per cent for first dose and 76.2 per cent for the second. Two weeks ago those rates were 83 per cent and 70 per cent.
St John staff, who are subject to the mandate, have high vaccination rates.
Deputy Chief Executive – People & Organisational Strategy, Emma Butler said all staff at the border are already fully vaccinated.
She said more than 95 per cent of staff in patient-facing roles have had their first dose and the "vast majority" have had their second dose.
While the organisation was confident it was "on track" to meeting requirements of the Order, Butler said St John was committed to working through the impact on the employment of those who remain unvaccinated after the specified dates.
"We continue to strongly encourage all our people to be vaccinated and we will continue to support our people to comply with the requirements of the Vaccination Order."