Coronavirus: Government could 'take a leaf' from US and mandate vaccine for businesses - Business NZ

Business NZ is hoping the New Zealand Government follows the United States in mandating the COVID-19 vaccine for employees in larger companies.

President Joe Biden issued an aggressive executive order on Thursday (local time) requiring about nine million public servants and contractors to get the vaccine, otherwise they're out of the job.

Additionally, companies with more than 100 staff will have to make their employees get the vaccine or be tested at least once a week, otherwise they'll be fined. That's another 80 million workers.

He took aim at the 25 percent of eligible Americans who are unvaccinated and are "crowding hospitals".

"This is not about freedom or personal choice, it's about protecting yourself and those around you," President Biden said.

The mandate resonates with Business NZ CEO Kirk Hope.

"Our Government could take a leaf out of Biden's book by providing the certainty that the US government has to businesses that this needs to be mandated," Hope says.

But Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson says a decision on this hasn't been made yet.

"At this point we have not made that decision, but it is an ongoing conversation about what the place of vaccines looks like."

Currently, only border workers have to be vaccinated, but Air New Zealand is proposing a vaccine mandate for essential non-border staff too - something other companies are also seeking advice on. 

But one vaccine expert says there's no need for Kiwi companies to make moves just because it's happening overseas.

"Most of New Zealand is fully behind the immunisation programme. We're showing good signs of getting high uptake, there is no need to rush into these sort of really strong punitive approaches," Professor Nikki Turner of the National Immunisation Advisory Centre says.

An approach Biden is hoping will pay off.