The High Court is hearing another challenge to the mandate that people in some jobs must be vaccinated.
A small number of doctors, midwives and teachers are asking the High Court to look again at the Covid mandate with a week to go before they must be vaccinated.
With the deadline looming, two groups – New Zealand Doctors Speaking Out on Science (NZDSOS) and its related group for teachers (NZTSOS) – along with a group of midwives are seeking a judicial review of the mandate order.
Lawyer Christopher Griggs for the midwives said one of the questions was if it was lawful for the health minister to make the order for them to lose their vocation if they don’t get the vaccine.
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“Unless they submit, they will have to give up their vocation, because they can’t legally work in that role. That is a very, very significant power, a very significant exercise of state power, to take someone’s vocation away if they don’t consent to being vaccinated.”
He said the applicants, whose identities were suppressed, were being called on to inject something into their bloodstream, which was an invasive procedure.
Griggs said the reason why they did not want to do it was immaterial. The legislation empowering the vaccination had to be read along with the Bill of Rights that contained the right to refuse medical treatment.
It is the latest court action by a number of groups and individuals looking to use legal means to challenge the Government’s mandate on particular job categories.
Parliament could not have meant to limit the right to refuse medical treatment, Griggs said. “To be required to put a needle in your arm and inject a substance that you don’t know what is in it.”
It was fundamental to our constitution that they could refuse, he said, and if the Government wanted to limit the right it had to say so explicitly.
Griggs said his clients did not have to have a reason to say no. “You have the right to say no. You might have a silly reason, that is entirely a matter for you.”
Lawyer for the doctors’ group Warren Pyke said there was a need for proper consultation rather than having the order rushed through.
Crown lawyer Daniel Perkins said that there was a practical cost to not having the vaccination but it did not limit their right not to get it.
There was a choice – to work in their vocation then they had to accept the treatment but if they did not, they then accepted they could lose their job, Perkins said.
He said Parliament was very conscious of the breadth of the orders and of its possible misuse and that while there were limits, they were not unjustifiable.
The groups also asked for the judgment and the court file to be anonymised so their names were not known.
Justice Matthew Palmer has reserved his decision. He said he was aware there was a deadline and expected to put it out this week.
Editor’s note: Despite the vaccine being safely administered to hundreds of millions of people worldwide, NZDSOS is composed of a small group of doctors, dentists and other medical professionals who object to the Covid-19 response. The group has made numerous unsubstantiated claims about the vaccine.
The ingredients of the Pfizer vaccine are publicly available on the Medsafe website.