National urges Government to go hard and early on vaccinating border workers

National is calling on the Government to vaccinate border workers “immediately”, saying New Zealand can’t be complacent with the emergence of a new variants of Covid-19 overseas.

Staff at a NZ quarantine facility. Source: 1 NEWS

Party leader Judith Collins says going hard and early and vaccinating border workers would provide another layer of defence at the border.

“Vaccinating our border workers should be an immediate priority given how easily transmissible the new Covid variants are.

“The Government can’t afford to be complacent given the seriousness of the situation.”

However, the World Health Organization says New Zealand should roll out vaccinations carefully and not rush the process.

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Transmission of Covid-19 from those vaccinated could still be possible, warns WHO

“It’s a lot more than simply getting the vials, getting the needles,” Dr Margaret Harris from the World Health Organization told 1 NEWS last week.

“There are many things that have to be done very well at every point in the chain for a really effective vaccination programme.”

Vaccinations against Covid-19 have only proven so far to prevent disease in a person.

“We don’t know if any of the vaccines actually prevent transmission,” says Harris.

“What we do know is the ones that are actually coming through that have passed the emergency use listing procedures do protect against disease.”

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Dr Margaret Harris from the World Health Organization says New Zealand needs to plan carefully and slowly roll out the vaccine programme. Source: 1 NEWS

During a press conference over the weekend, the World Health Organization’s Dr Mike Ryan warned countries to not “rely entirely on vaccines as the only solution”.

“We could lose the controlled measures we have at our disposal."

He noted that the variants emerging now have played a role in the sky rocketing numbers of Covid-19 globally, but says it’s not the main reason why the virus continues to spread.

“A small proportion of that may be due to the emerging variants which are fitter. But a large proportion of that transmission has occurred because we are reducing our social, physical distancing.

“We are not breaking the chains of transmission. The virus is exploiting our lack of tactical commitment, our fatigue, the breaking down of our behaviours.

“The vaccine is the light at the end of the tunnel. It is a hugely, it’s a massive advance, but it doesn’t answer, and it will not address every question we have. 

“We have to continue to do the other measures.”

‘We’re planning to vaccinate people as quickly as possible’ – Bloomfield says

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The Director-General of Health says NZ won’t slow down its programme, following WHO saying nation has time to plan rollout. Source: 1 NEWS

The Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield says New Zealand won’t be slowing down the vaccination process here, but acknowledges there’s no need to rush the vaccine compared to other countries.

“Well, what we’re planning is to approve, take delivery of and vaccinate people as quickly as possible, but we also have to be realistic that many countries have a very pressing need for the vaccine because they have really substantial outbreaks and people are dying every day.

“We’re not going to slow down our process here, but what we do have the advantage of is watching and learning from other countries so we don’t have that emergency type of situation but it doesn’t mean we’re going to slow our process down.”

On Breakfast this morning, Minister for Covid-19 Response Chris Hipkins says the first shipment of vaccines will arrive in New Zealand by the end of March, with vaccinations to start soon after.