Wednesday, 10 March 2021

Vaccine sequencing framework terribly lacking

“Today’s vaccine sequencing framework announcement by COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins had this Government’s hallmark shocking lack of detail front and centre,” says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“The two most frequent responses Chris Hipkins gave to media today were probably ‘that’s a decision that has not been taken yet’ and ‘we haven’t worked through the finer details.’

“Today’s announcement was essentially what the Government said 10 days ago but with the addition of older or unwell people who live within the boundaries of the Counties-Manukau DHB in the second phase.

“That simply isn’t good enough.

“Has this Government heard of Australia and seen how they’re rolling the vaccine out there?

“Did no one in Government do any preparatory work on the Prime Minister’s ‘year of the vaccine’ after making pre-election announcements that we’d be at the front of the queue?

“Where’s the usability for the public from today’s announcement – the likes of Australia’s interactive COVID-19 Vaccination Eligibility Checker, or the option to receive the latest updates about the COVID-19 vaccination rollout straight to your email.

“Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield admitted how the rollout would occur is still very much a work in progress.

“He said officials were still working out ‘the best way to use capacity in the system,’ whether the rollout will be regional or not, and admitting there still isn’t a proper booking system in place.

“If you Google ‘Covid update nz’ today you’re taken to a Ministry of Health web page of static information links that says on the bottom of the page ‘last updated: 19 February 2021.’

“Some of the information at the links has been updated more recently, but it’s generic and of little use to anyone – like most of the information this Government has released about the vaccine rollout.

“This is why one of the immediate recommendations in ACT’s COVID Response Plan 2.0 released today is to begin the process of establishing an Epidemic Response Unit to replace the leadership of the Ministry of Health.

“The COVID-19 pandemic requires a tailored, long-term Government approach and the best time to start putting the agency in place is now.”