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'A bit hit and miss' — Disappointment at the state of NZ's vaccine rollout

According to Dr Apisalome Talemaitonga, from the Pasifika Medical Association, New Zealand's vaccine rollout "could be better".

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Q+A’s panel expected a better vaccine rollout given how long the Government had to prepare before the first doses arrived in the country. Source: Q+A

He told Q+A with Jack Tame it’s disappointing that the lessons from Covid-19 messaging and testing weren’t the basis of our vaccine rollout plan.

"I think we could have been smarter at the messaging. We could have thought about the venues that would work. Going to churches, that infrastructure worked with the testing last year," he said.

"It’s happening now, but it’s been a bit slow."

Talemaitoga told Tame that he’s been part of the Ministry of Health’s roadshow travelling Pasifika communities around the country, and in his opinion "the smaller DHBs have done better", singling out Nelson and Midlands DHBs for praise.

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If you're over 60, you'll be eligible from July 28 before the staggered rollout sees everyone become eligible from sometime in October. Source: 1 NEWS

He said they’ve listened to their communities and tailored their approach accordingly. So that when a Sāmoan grandmother is brought in for vaccination "they’ve offered it to the whole whānau, to try and get the vaccine numbers up".

Fran O’Sullivan, NZME’s head of business, described the rollout as "a bit hit and miss". She’s already had a number of texts inviting her to enrol for vaccination despite already being enrolled, "in that sense there’s obviously a bit of confusion in the system".

"My concern is that this is going to have to be an annual event from the sound of it, where we’re going to have to have booster shots, bit like we have to do with flu, deal with a different variant that might arise, so in some ways we need to put in place that system that is actually going to be able to be used again and again."

Economic commentator Bernard Hickey, agreed the vaccine rollout is "a bit haphazard". He believed we should have had more in place, ready to go, once the vaccines started arriving in the country.

"The IT system is not properly rolled out yet and there is a concern that we’re not getting vaccinated as fast as everyone else."

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However, he pointed out that key factor in how quickly New Zealand relaxes its strict border controls is essentially out of our hands.

"We are really dependent on what happens in Australia because we are part of that bubble and we really don’t go beyond Australia until Australia’s done," he said.

"And they have extra problems on top of ours. Multiple vaccines, multiple governments, and they may not be ready, according to their own Treasury until mid 2022, that means I don’t think we actually really open up the economy beyond Australia until the end of 2022, early ’23."

Watch the full Q+A panel discussion in the video above.