Weekend Herald

Vaccine rollout: ‘Stocks will be tight for the next five weeks'

- Derek Cheng and Adam Pearse

Pressure on vaccine supplies is slowing the rollout for prisoners and some Defence Force personnel, the Ministry of Health has confirmed.

This is despite Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins saying on Tuesday the programme would not need scaling down.

“We know we’re going to get a reasonable amount through June

. . . and then, through July, we’ve now got the confirmati­on of a million.”

However, director general of health Ashley Bloomfield yesterday said “stocks will be tight for the next five weeks”.

“We are slowing, but not stopping, vaccinatio­ns planned for people in prison and some civilian and reserve Defence Force personnel.”

Walk-ins will also stop: “This means appointmen­ts will be required for vaccinatio­ns at all DHBs,” Bloomfield said.

The announceme­nt comes after a senior clinician anonymousl­y told the Otago Daily Times yesterday supplies were low across New Zealand.

“People giving out vaccines have been told to cut right back because there is not enough vaccine.”

Despite this, the Government is giving all its 834,000 AstraZenec­a courses to Pacific nations, but keeping about 100,000 Pfizer doses bought from a global scheme to help with equitable access to vaccines.

Bloomfield said there would be enough weekly arrivals of vaccine shipments for DHBs to deliver 500,000 doses in the next five weeks.

As of midnight Tuesday, the rollout was 10 per cent ahead of schedule, but Auckland Metro — which includes the region’s three DHBs — was almost 30,000 jabs behind schedule.

Some Aucklander­s are being told they cannot book their Covid vaccine at community vaccinatio­n centres until as late as the end of next month.

Peter Donnelly spoke to the Herald late last month, protesting the slow rollout to rest homes which forced him to take his brother, Michael, who has Parkinson’s disease, out of the West Harbour Gardens rest home to get vaccinated in Westgate on May 21.

Donnelly was also vaccinated that day without a booking, and was given a card that said he would get his second dose on June 11.

But when he rang the Covid helpline on Tuesday, he found there was no booking for his second dose. Instead, he made a 42km trip from his home to get a vaccine in Manurewa.

After the Weekend Herald contacted the Northern Region Health Co-ordination Centre on his behalf, he was given a new appointmen­t for Monday in Westgate. Donnelly called it “a shambles”.

Those in charge of Auckland’s rollout say they are investigat­ing any issues with extensive booking delays.

Meanwhile, two people with Covid were transferre­d from quarantine to Middlemore Hospital this week.

They were in a stable condition, and among 29 active cases in New Zealand, including five new Covid cases reported in managed isolation yesterday.

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