Emma, Queenstown, Discrimination
My name is Emma, and this is my true story
My exemption was not denied by the MOH/Bloomfield. I was not able to apply to the MOH for my exemption because my work didn’t fall into the industry criteria. But I am sharing the issue of my vaccine exemption issue because the choices the govt have made around vaccine exemptions have affected all industries, and basically given employers (who have the ability to choose whether to mandate or not) the right to discriminate.
I’m an actor/producer and have had a lot of work stopped and funding opportunities cut due to everything that is happening around covid and mandates. But I also auditioned for and was offered the part in a play last December (2021) in one of the country’s largest theatre production houses. However my contract stipulated I had to be vaccinated as performers were “considered high risk to staff and audience at the theatre.”
Getting this job meant the world to me. I can’t express how thrilled I was to be offered the chance to be back on stage again after some time away. This opportunity was something I had been working toward since 2019. It was a great victory and the prospect of turning down the job was devastating.
I had been hesitant to get the vaccine up until that point, for lots of reasons. One big reason being that my husband and I were trying to conceive. But I really considered getting vaccinated for this wonderful job opportunity that I deeply wanted. However I was torn because I knew with either decision I would be giving something up; great career opportunity or body sovereignty.
Around the same time, I fell pregnant. I have experienced miscarriages in the past. This made my decision easier about the vaccine, I was not going to get it due to the very little safety data around vaccination in pregnancy. I was so sad that this would likely mean I can’t do the play. But the theatre (not upper management, but director and production manager) asked me to seek out an exemption as they very much wanted me to remain in the cast of the play.
I had a consultation with NZDSOS who wrote a letter recommending I do not get vaccinated due to a massive lack of evidence that vaccination was safe for conception, pregnancy and breast feeding. My midwife also advised me not to be vaccinated until at least after 13 weeks given my history of miscarriage – she is vaccinated by the way but understood the lack of safety data too around vaccination and pregnancy. Everything was presented to the theatre, and upper management decided to retract my job offer due to me being unvaccinated. They would only accept an exemption from MOH, which I was not able to apply for anyway.
That is my story.