Two million Covid vaccines administered in NZ

Megan Main and Chris Hipkins. Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone.

Two million doses of the Pfizer vaccine have now been given in New Zealand, with the Covid-19 Response Minister saying the pandemic is not coming to an end and it is important to keep the virus out of this country.

Chris Hipkins and joint head of Managed Isolation and Quarantine Megan Main have given a coronavirus and vaccine update.

Hipkins says the current international situation reinforces the imperative of taking a staunch risk-based approach to dealing with Covid-19.

He says cases worldwide are surging again, with an increase of 20 percent in the last two weeks of July, with more than half a million new cases reported each day.

The WHO says the delta variant has reached 132 countries and continues to spread, with cases rising in multiple continents.

In the USA, a renewed surge of cases has seen the seven-day average increase more than 500 percent to an average of 80,000 cases a day.

The pandemic is not coming to an end, Hipkins says, and it is important to keep the virus and particularly the delta variant out of New Zealand.

"Every extra MIQ space we open up increases risk. We already bring in 4000 people - the population of a small New Zealand town - every fortnight. We bring in around three times more people per capita than Australia does."

Hipkins says outbreaks across the Tasman can be traced back to their managed isolation facilities, so the government will continue to take a very staunch approach at the border.

He says yesterday the 2,000,000th dose of the Pfizer vaccine was delivered.

Yesterday was also a record day for vaccinations with more than 42,000 inoculations, and DHBs continuing to track more than 3 percent ahead of the plan.

Mainfreight and Fonterra are initial employers who will act as workplace vaccination sites, and will be followed by the Warehouse Group, and Fisher and Paykel Healthcare.

Total vaccinations to midnight last night was 2,021,024 doses.

Second doses have been given to 769,700 New Zealanders.

Hipkins says the government is mindful of equity in the vaccine rollout, and while there has been good uptake and bookings among Māori and Pasifika, there is more work to do on this.

He says vaccines will open for those aged 55+ on Friday, five days ahead of schedule.

He says this is because DHBs have been continuing to increase capacity.

"People in this 55+ age group who haven't already been vaccinated can expect to get invitations or go to book their vaccine from Friday."

Bookings can also be made on the vaccine bookings phone line, Hipkins says.

"We have our eyes firmly fixed on the end of August, where we expect over the next few weeks to deliver the next million doses much much faster than the first two million doses that have been delivered."

Main says the team wants to be able to bring everyone home who can be, but it must be done in a safe, managed way - and that is difficult.

"What we are effectively doing is filling a 4000-person capacity sports events every two weeks but with a number of additional complicating factors, not least of which is the mass disruption to travel all around the world and the uncertainty that creates."

She says there is no silver bullet and "unfortunately that's the reality of life in a global pandemic".

They are working hard on making the system as fair as possible given the difficult circumstances, she says. This includes having some spaces set aside for urgent need, at a high threshold and as a last resort.

She says the MIQ workforce is key to the system working and they deserve the thanks of all New Zealanders, but "they are not always treated with kindness in their communities".

The government has launched a campaign called "treat me fairly", she says.

"It's a way for our workers to report incidents of discrimination or stigmatisation or being treated differently simply because they work in MIQ. It's a safe, private, confidential way for them to let us know what they've encountered ... MIQ workers and their families should expect to be treated no differently than other people when accessing services," she says.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said the aim is, nationwide, to have everyone who wants to be vaccinated done by the end of this year.

And next Thursday, Ardern will release advice from experts on how to open the border safely and public health measures, and then set out a government plan.


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Next Thursday...

Posted on 05-08-2021 12:41 | By morepork

"... advice from experts on how to open the border safely." Yeah, right. It doesn’t need to be opened, safely or otherwise, until ALL travelers are vaccinated, and tested pre-boarding. As for "experts"...X is the unknown quantity and a "spurt" is a drip under pressure...


Posted on 04-08-2021 16:24 | By

Countries that have had exposure have seen a much smaller third wave. In fact the graphs of some are very similar to the Spanish flu 3 waves. Which then fizzled out. Delta is clearly highly contagious but the mortality rate is similar to flu. It’s coming to an end alright. Unfortunately NZ is so far behind with vaccines and has had no exposure, the Government has to keep the scary level up.