Covid-19 vaccination centres in Dunedin’s Meridian Mall and in Invercargill began injecting frontline health workers last week, and have also been delivering second doses of the vaccine to port workers.
Public Health nursing and immunisation vaccinators and administration staff were doing much of the work at present, southern vaccine rollout incident controller Hamish Brown said.
This was affecting the Southern District Health Board’s MMR vaccination catch-up campaign, B4 schools check, HPV vaccinations and other school-based programmes.
“This is also using staff who would also support contact-tracing work for Covid-19 cases.” . .
Does this give you confidence that any of these programmes are being, or will be, done well?
“There have been a few teething problems, as you can imagine with an operation of this scale, but our teams have been able to resolve issues as they have cropped up, and on the whole the clinics have run very smoothly,” Mr Brown said.
However, in a report to be considered by the Southern District Health Board on Thursday, Mr Brown said a national Covid-19 vaccination booking system was at least a month away and southern health officials were relying on electronic diary Outlook calendar in the interim.
“There is currently no robust booking system in place, and the existing hospital booking system does not meet the requirements for the programme.
“An interim booking system…has been put in place to manage the immediate need to book in household contacts for the next few weeks.”
Southern and other DHBs had worked together to find a suitable booking system and discussions were ongoing with a possible provider, Mr Brown said. . .
We were told months ago that we’d be at the front of the queue for Covid-19 vaccinations. We aren’t, and that has given more time to get the logistics sorted so that the programme runs smoothly.
If there are all these problems this early, when a relatively small number of people are being vaccinated, how confident can we be that they will be solved when mass vaccination is under way, and that other programmes, including annual ‘flu vaccinations, won’t be compromised?
Chris McDowall’s report on the Ministry of Health’s opaque and messy handling of public health data on Covid-19 vaccination progress.
. . . Without published statistics, media briefings are our only source of truth about how the rollout is progressing.
Slip-ups and an absence of detail detract from public confidence, potentially creating space for anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theories.
We will continue to request data about the vaccine rollout from the Government and follow up outstanding questions. We hope the Government will start making this data freely available.
And then there’s this:
Not only is New Zealand second bottom in the OECD for the number of Covid-19 vaccinations but in information leaked to National we are nowhere near where the Government planned for us to be back in January, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says.
“Leaked data shows that at this point in the vaccine roll out, a cumulative total of 390,413 vaccine should have been administered, but only 90,286 have been so far, a pathetic 23 per cent.
“After promising New Zealanders we were at the front of the queue for Covid-19 vaccines, nearly every other country in the OECD is now ahead of us, with just Japan behind New Zealand.
“We aren’t at the front of the queue – we are at the back.”
As of yesterday, New Zealand has administered just 1.9 doses per 100 people in our population.
The countries ahead of us include Australia (3.31 per 100 people), Singapore (25.95), the United Kingdom (54.52) and the United States (50).
“Australia has recently been criticised for the slow pace of its vaccine roll out, but New Zealand is even worse and there’s no sign we’re picking up the pace,” Mr Bishop says.
“National is deeply concerned about the vaccine roll out.
“Three of the four necessary IT systems for our roll out aren’t ready, DHBs are contracting their own booking system solutions with disastrous results, the Government refuses to set a target for the percentage of the population to be vaccinated, and we’re still unclear who will be vaccinated when.
“The Government hasn’t even begun a proper communications campaign to educate New Zealanders about the vaccine. New Zealand’s economic and social future is relying on a successful vaccine roll.
“The public should have daily access to how we are progressing in our Covid vaccine roll out, they shouldn’t have to rely on leaked information to Opposition parties.
“As more countries vaccinate their populations New Zealand risks being left behind. They will start opening up trade and travel to each other while we, a country where our prosperity depends on international connections, will lag behind.
“The elimination of Covid-19 in New Zealand should have been an opportunity for us to recover more quickly than the rest of the world. We are at risk of wasting this through a slow and ineffective roll out.”
The government, ministry and DHBs need to urgently improve the logistics of the vaccine roll out, and data releases, to ensure we can all have confidence in what’s being done, that it will be done well, and to provide no space for anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists.