A local MP has described staffing levels at the Lakes District Health Board as "a deeply distressing situation" after the introduction of the vaccine mandate saw 42 staff stood down.
And an in-home health board patient believes the loss of staff has already had a flow-on effect.
The comments come as the deadline for health workers to get their first vaccination passed this week.
The vaccination order required all health practitioners and all workers in close proximity to health practitioners providing services to members of the public to have received their first Covid-19 vaccine by last Monday.
Forty-two unvaccinated staff at what a union says is an already understaffed Lakes District Health Board were stood down because of the mandate.
This included four midwives, 23 nurses and 15 staff classed as other - meaning staff of a particular role of which less than three staff had been stood down. The 42 staff equates to about 2 per cent of the health board's employees.
This week an in-home patient, who wished to remain anonymous, said they received a phone call on Monday to say nurses would not be coming to see them at home as normal and would instead leave them a package to care for themselves.
"I said: 'I can't do it myself', and they said: 'Well I'll leave a package for you' and hung up," they said.
"They're essential services and we should be able to rely on them."
The patient said a nurse visited them on Thursday and assured them they would be taken care of. She said the nurse told her "it's not good enough".
The DHB could not comment on the patient's specific circumstances but a spokesperson said it "closely monitors the nurse staffing situation on a daily basis with a focus on ensuring continuity of safe patient care".
They said recruitment for nurses was ongoing and two midwives were due to start next week as they continued to advertise jobs in the health board area which includes Rotorua and the greater Taupō/Tūrangi area.
The DHB was asked how many midwives and nurses were left working but did not reveal the figure.
It previously said 34 midwives worked for the health board.
The patient raised their concern with National MP McClay. He said the staff shortage was "a deeply distressing situation".
McClay believed the pressure put on staff would mean "treatments and operations will be postponed or cancelled".
Another patient contacted McClay with a concern that their operation, first scheduled during lockdown, was postponed until this week and then put off again due to staff numbers, he said.
Labour MP Tamati Coffey was asked how low staff would impact the community.
"Make no mistake, we haven't taken decisions about mandating lightly. We've looked carefully at the sectors where we know we need to protect the vulnerable, those who can't get vaccinated, and make sure that everybody feels safe in those settings."
New Zealand Nurses Organisation organiser Selina Robinson believed there would be fewer nurses and health workers to deliver the services to the community following the mandate.
"We're going to lose experience and skill within the area."
Jill Ovens, co-leader of the Midwifery Employee Representation & Advisory Service, felt a similar way.
"In some areas, just the loss of one midwife could make a difference."
Ovens believed midwives had been underpaid and undervalued for decades so some weren't in a hurry to stick around.
"Those midwives employed by the Lakes DHB are already under considerable pressure due to difficulties retaining midwives and recruiting."
She believed there were more midwives with practising certificates than ever before but many were choosing not to practice.
NZ College of Midwives chief executive Alison Eddy said it had been raising recruitment issues for more than eight years.
"Initiatives and resources to support recruitment and retention of a workforce which is experiencing a national shortage, are urgently needed."
She said fewer midwives were working more hours to ensure no pregnant women were turned away.
The union promotes full funding of student midwives through the Midwifery Accord, supporting students who can't work when they have to be available 24/7 for training.
The union initiated a Midwifery Accord with the DHBs and Ministry of Health to support recruitment and retention of midwives including Te Ara o Hine - Tapu Ora, investment in clinical coach roles, and return to practice programmes.