What Today’s Vaccine Announcement Must Include
“The Government outlining further plans for the country’s COVID-19 vaccination programme today – 16 days after the vaccine arrived in New Zealand – is far from ideal but it must be meaningful for all New Zealanders,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.
“What’s pretty clear is the Government wasn’t running a strategy of under-promising and over-delivering when it came to the arrival date of the vaccine, it honestly didn’t expect it to arrive so soon.
“That’s why its electronic register of who was receiving the vaccine wasn’t ready to go when the first vaccine arrived, and who will receive the vaccine once critical border workers and their families have been vaccinated has been allowed to become a matter of conjecture.
“An organised Government would have laid the details of a national vaccine rollout strategy already, just as the Australian Government did over a month before its first vaccine arrived.
“Today, at the very least, the Government needs to outline:
- Priority populations for vaccination, and the phases in which vaccines will be provided in New Zealand (similar to the 17 categories of occupation and population published in Australia on 7 January)
- An indication by month of when these groups are likely to begin being vaccinated
- Targets of how many people will be vaccinated each week, to inform the forecast timelines – we need to be able to track progress against the strategy
- When it will launch an online tool that allows New Zealanders to input their age and occupation and receive guidance on vaccination phases and eligibility, like the Australian Government’s COVID-19 Vaccination Eligibility Checker
“It simply won’t wash for the Government to claim not knowing how soon vaccines will arrive will impact their ability to inform New Zealanders of these basic elements of the rollout.
“It’s clear we’re not going to be subject to vaccine shortages; in fact the opposite is probably true.
“The Government has now admitted that Pfizer vaccines are expected to arrive weekly, and with CSL soon to start producing AstraZeneca’s drug in Melbourne the flow of vaccine is likely to be the least of our problems.
“New Zealand individuals and businesses need to be able to plan their lives and their strategies based on when they will be vaccinated.
“Anything less today than a clear articulation of which New Zealanders will receive vaccines when will be another failure from a Government that is not handling COVID-19 well, despite the natural advantages New Zealand’s remoteness delivers.”