Politicians across the spectrum are calling for South Aucklanders to be prioritised in some way when Covid-19 vaccines are rolled out to the general population.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins told Q+A said the approach would make sense.
He said a “variety of things” go into considering who comes earlier in the queue to be offered a vaccine. This would include whether someone was at risk because of a health condition or their age, or if they were living in a higher-risk setting.
“As soon as we get vaccines available beyond our most at-risk workforce, we will be looking to roll it out to those who are more at risk within the community,” Hipkins said.
“Clearly, South Auckland, located by the big airport where most of our people are coming into the country from abroad, that clearly is a setting that’s probably a bit more at risk.”
This fact would be “reflected” in the vaccine rollout plan, he said, comments echoed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at today's 1pm news conference.
"It makes absolute sense that we would start a vaccination programme in an area such as South Auckland because there is that higher risk there, for multiple reasons."
National leader Judith Collins appeared on Q+A after Hipkins, and said Covid-19 jabs should be offered to South Auckland residents ahead of the elderly in other parts of New Zealand.
Collins said, for a range of reasons, people in Auckland's south should be moved up the queue, ahead of elderly people in retirement homes in other parts of the country.
“Without judging where people live or who works where, it is clear, we have higher density occupation for homes in parts of South Auckland in particular,” the Papakura MP said.
"We also have a lot of people in South Auckland who work at border facilities, but also work in rest homes, we need to be realistic here and we need to say 'South Auckland does need something', and that something special happens to be vaccinations."
Efeso Collins, a Labour-aligned Auckland Councillor for the Manukau ward, said he “absolutely” believed South Aucklanders should get priority when it came to vaccinating against Covid-19.
Collins said it made sense given outbreaks of the virus had mostly come from South Auckland.
The whole of Auckland should be prioritised, too, he said.
The calls come as Auckland is once again plunged into lockdown after two more cases linked to the Papatoetoe cluster emerged yesterday.
Collins said the South Auckland community was feeling “quite a level of frustration” and “anxiety” after the cases were announced yesterday.
The frustration was beginning to boil over on social media, which was “really unfortunate”. He said South Aucklanders had constantly been reminded to not get complacent, so that the vitriol it got during the August outbreak last year wouldn’t be repeated.
“When we’re talking about the team of five million, we know we’re a part of it. But, it’s also important others looking in on South Auckland understand we’re playing our bit. Their bit is to support us and to awhi us.”
As it became clearer some of the people who contracted the virus had not followed health authorities’ advice, Collins said it was important to keep in mind “complex” and “wider” issues may have played a role.
He said the young people at the centre of the outbreak were only trying to do the best that they could.
Some in the South Auckland community also believed conspiracy theories about the virus, and “that’s what our young people have to go through”, Collins added.