“The Government can’t answer the simple question, when will it deem the vaccination roll out to be complete,” says ACT Leader David Seymour after Chris Hipkins appeared in front of the Health Select Committee this morning.
“The Government says it is relying on advice from Prof. Sir David Skegg. That advice says things such as ‘The staging of a phased re-opening of New Zealand’s borders, once the vaccination roll-out is completed, cannot be specified in detail yet.’ This is one of several references to New Zealand making progress once the roll out is complete.
“Prof. Skegg’s comments were in response to questions from Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verral such as, in relation to reopening the border, ‘would there be any circumstances in which this could commence before the completion of the vaccination roll-out?’
“Clearly the completion of the vaccine roll out is an important milestone. On August 26 I asked Professor Skegg ‘what you’re really saying is “complete the vaccination programme” means everyone who wants one’s had an opportunity and had one?” “Yes,” he said.
“On September 11th I asked Chris Hipkins what this meant, and he said the goal was ‘unequivocally’ that everyone would have the chance to be vaccinated.
“Then Ashley Bloomfield said the goal was actually to have 90 per cent of New Zealanders vaccinated.
“Yesterday I asked the Prime Minister when she’d deem that everyone had had an opportunity to be vaccinated, and she said ‘Every New Zealander has an opportunity to be vaccinated now.’
“Business and households want certainty about what happens next. If they can’t get certainty, they at least need transparency about how decisions will be made. At this point, it’s not clear when the vaccine roll out will be complete, or what that even means.
“So today I asked Chris Hipkins. I asked him when the roll out will be complete, what modelling has been done. He gave a completely new answer.
“The roll out will be complete, he said, when enough people are vaccinated to prevent hospitals being overwhelmed with COVID. That may be a sensible target, but if it’s true, why didn’t he just say that earlier.
“If it’s the case that we’re not waiting for everyone to have had a chance to be vaccinated, we’re not waiting for 90 per cent of people to be vaccinated, we’re waiting for vaccination rates to be sufficient to protect the hospitals, the Government should release this thinking and the modelling behind it.
“If they do not have such modelling, and they really are flying blind, they should say that, too."