The New Zealand Herald

Bloomfield: Walk in for your vaccine from July

All Kiwis can get a shot, and there’s a $1b budget, says director general of health

- Derek Cheng

People will be able to walk in to a clinic and get the Pfizer vaccine jab from July, when the Government plans to be able to roll out an average of 280,000-odd doses a week for six months.

That would enable the Ministry of Health to reach its goal of vaccinatin­g every eligible Kiwi who wants to be vaccinated, director-general of health Dr Ashley Bloomfield said yesterday.

He added that efforts will be made — including through mobile stations — to ensure people in rural and harder-to-access areas will have as much of a chance to get a jab as anyone.

And he revealed a $1 billion budget for vaccines, which the Health Ministry is yet to totally spend.

Bloomfield added that he would move to allay GP concerns about their role in the rollout by writing to them by the end of the week. He didn’t want to put a figure on what New Zealand would need to reach “population immunity”, which has previously been estimated at about 70 per cent of the population.

That is also the proportion of the population — 69 per cent — that say they are likely to take the vaccine, according to a new survey released by the Health Ministry yesterday.

One in five respondent­s said they were unlikely to take a vaccine if offered, and 9.4 per cent said they will “definitely not”.

Concerns about the vaccine were mainly about the long-term effects (58 per cent) and safety ( 40 per cent).

Only 48 per cent of 18 to 24-yearolds said they would definitely get vaccinated, but this jumped 20 percentage points in December last year, which Bloomfield said was down to “confidence in our programme”.

The survey results — conducted by Horizon Research and released yesterday by the Ministry of Health — are from online surveys with about 1400 respondent­s in September 2020, December 2020, February 2021 and March 2021.

Meanwhile, Medsafe’s latest report into adverse events shows no potential safety issues with the Pfizer vaccine, a serious reaction in about one in every 3700 people, and a nonserious reaction in one in every 108 people. The report, released on Thursday, covers the three-week period from the start of the rollout until March 13, including 22,588 doses. This would equate roughly to the same number of people, given very few if any of them would have had a second dose. One person can also identify more than one symptom, so the proportion­s of adverse reactions per person are estimates.

But epidemiolo­gist Michael Baker said it was “still clear that there was an incredibly low proportion of people who have anything classified as a serious reaction”.

The most frequent “adverse event” was dizziness (49 instances), followed by headaches (37), nausea (36), fainting (22), faintness (9), redness (8), fatigue (8), fever (8), injection site pain (8) and swelling (8). These are the known side-effects of the Pfizer vaccine.

Zero potential safety issues, defined as something that “may be caused by the vaccine and requires further investigat­ion”, were identified. Medsafe also stressed that an adverse event isn’t necessaril­y caused by a vaccine dose. Three of the serious reactions were new since the last safety report; two of them were allergic reactions and were managed appropriat­ely, while the third was a reactogeni­city reaction, where the patient experience­d flulike symptoms.

There were two new Covid cases in managed isolation announced yesterday and no community cases. Of the border cases, one arrived from India on April 8 and the other from Ethiopia on April 5.

 ?? Photo / Sylvie Whinray ?? Checking out the signs at a Covid-19 vaccinatio­n centre in the Atrium on Elliott, in central Auckland.
Photo / Sylvie Whinray Checking out the signs at a Covid-19 vaccinatio­n centre in the Atrium on Elliott, in central Auckland.
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 ??  ?? Ashley Bloomfield
Ashley Bloomfield

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