No schools have applied for COVID-19 vaccine mandate exemptions - Ardern

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern doubts there'll be a large number of resignations as the education workforce COVID-19 vaccine mandate commences.

The mandate for school staff came into effect on Monday and Ardern says she's unaware of any school applying to the Ministry of Education for exemptions.

School staff had to have their first dose of the vaccine by Monday under health orders announced by the Government last month.

"[Exemption application] hasn't happened, that we've been advised, from any schools so that indicates that while there may be staff affected, the impacts of those have been able to be managed," Ardern told The AM Show.

It comes after Fire and Emergency New Zealand last week was granted a two-week extension to get its workforce vaccinated, with that mandate also due to come into effect on Monday.

Ardern told host Eric Young there were more than 1400 school bus routes in New Zealand and only about 17 were impacted by the mandate.

"Again, you can see, it is a small portion where we're seeing these impacts.

"For those that need to, there was the ability to seek an exemption… if there are issues that might actually materially affect the ability of the school to operate but, as I say, to date we haven't received any of those," Ardern said.

Ardern pointed to why the Government introduced the mandate in the first place.

"This was always because we have a group of New Zealanders, a large group of New Zealanders, who cannot be vaccinated - and they're our children," she said. "The best way we can offer them protection, and also try and create a safe environment as much as possible in schools, is by having the adults who can be vaccinated, vaccinated."

Jacinda Ardern.
Jacinda Ardern. Photo credit: Getty Images

Ardern said she's confident the majority of school principals and boards of trustees understand the reasons behind the mandate.

"If they need any support managing this requirement, the Ministry of Education is there to support them."

The education workforce has until January 1 to receive their second vaccine dose.