Coronavirus crisis: New Zealand bottom of class for vaccine rollout

Ben McKayAAP
VideoNew Zealand will begin to offer free COVID-19 vaccines to its entire population by the middle of next year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Thursday.

New Zealand has slumped to 120th in the world for COVID-19 vaccinations as it prepares to treat the general population next month.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern will announce the country’s plan to expand the rollout beyond health and border workers

New Zealand is using Pfizer to vaccinate its entire adult population, and remains steadfast to a commitment to jab every consenting adult Kiwi this year.

However, it’s got much to do.

Aotearoa has fallen behind Japan to sit last among OECD nations for doses administered per capita.

Under 11 per cent of Kiwis have received their first dose of Pfizer’s two-dose treatment - well behind Australia’s 21 per cent.

Some six per cent of Kiwis have been given their second shot and are fully vaccinated.

On Wednesday, Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed a 10 per cent slowdown in the rollout last week as health officials looked to manage supply.

New Zealand is dependent on Pfizer supplying vaccine from overseas manufacturers, which is a major factor behind its slow rollout.

Another is the general aptitude of the health system.

Ms Ardern and COVID-19 Minister Chris Hipkins has both outlined their nervousness at the system’s ability to handle the vaccinate rollout, the most complex logistical undertaking in New Zealand’s history.

Dr Bloomfield did report one reason for positivity: a drop in vaccine hesitancy or anti-vax views among Kiwis.

According to the latest survey, 80 per cent of Kiwis - up from 77 per cent in April and 69 per cent in March - will volunteer for the treatment.

“That’s very encouraging,” New Zealand’s top doctor said.

Australia’s hesitancy rates are higher.

According to a survey published in the Nine Newspapers last month, 29 per cent of Australians were “not at all likely” or “not very likely” to be vaccinated.

Dr Bloomfield was also pleased with progress vaccinating residents in NZ’s aged care centres; a major problem in Australia’s botched rollout.

Several Kiwi regions have “fully vaccinated their entire aged care resident population”, including Wellington and surrounds, with an aim to be done nationally this month.

“I understand we are on track for this,” he said, referring to first vaccinations.

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