21 Jul 2021

Covid-19 vaccine campaign to 'really ramp up' - Hipkins

1:50 pm on 21 July 2021

More than 1.5 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine have now been given in New Zealand, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins has confirmed.

Hipkins and Dr Ashley Bloomfield have provided the latest information on the Covid-19 vaccine rollout as Australia grapples with outbreaks of the Delta variant.

Watch the update here:

Hipkins said more than 1,553,000 vaccine doses have been administered, an increase of 148,000 doses on last week - the new weekly high - and a new daily high of 30,358 doses was reached yesterday.

More than 628,000 New Zealanders have had their second dose, he said, including 180,000 people in group 3.

New Zealand is tracking about 5 percent ahead of the government's plan.

"We're likely to reach 2 million doses administered in early August around about two weeks from now," said Hipkins.

He said more shipments on the scale seen recently, with 337,000 doses arriving on Sunday, are expected to continue with two more shipments before the end of August.

He said expectations are that DHBs will have given everyone in group three the opportunity to book their vaccination by the end of July, and some like Auckland's three metro DHBs had already achieved that.

"The Ministry of Health will be working with all DHBs to make sure that they are getting everybody in group three into the booking system in the next few days."

People in group four aged between 60 and 65 will start getting invitations to book through the government's booking system from 28 July, when the official 0800 number will also open.

He said New Zealanders can expect the vaccination campaign to "really ramp up" from the end of July.

"More than 9500 new vaccinators have been trained to administer the Covid-19 vaccine and they'll support our existing vaccinator workforce and there are now more than 600 vaccination centres open around the country with more coming online."

He says there were nearly 700,000 bookings in Book My Vaccine, with more than 200,000 of those made in the past week.

From the start of August, a weekday daily snapshot of the vaccine programme will be be released, with a deep dive on statistics released each week.

People eligible to book an appointment will not be cut off at any point, he says.

"You can get vaccinated at any time once it is available to you."

Travel bubbles

On the travel bubble, Hipkins said the existing travel pauses were reviewed again this morning and will continue into next week.

The pauses with NSW, Victoria and South Australia will be reviewed on 27 July.

He said the NSW bubble is still in 'Pause' under the traffic light system, and that was unlikely to change for some time.

Hipkins last night announced a pause on the travel bubble with South Australia after the state went into lockdown following discovery of a fifth case of Covid-19 in the community there.

Risk assessments of different states are done on a case-by-case basis, he said.

"There is no such thing as a norm here."

Bloomfield said the risk assessment of each Australian state and territory is happening every day, and sometimes more than once a day.

A third ship with Covid-19 on board - the container ship Mattina, which sailed from Indonesia - docked at a quarantine area in Bluff yesterday with nine crew testing positive for the virus.

Bloomfield said there are no community cases and no cases in recent returnees today.

He has reconfirmed they are adding an additional six positive cases from the Mattina container ship, bringing the total from the ship to nine.

A rapid rise in global cases has been seen again since the beginning of July, he says, with cases increasing by over 30 percent in the past fortnight to 17 July. More than half a million new cases are being reported every day.

"Cases are on the rise in many countries," he said.

"While we are seeing the impact of vaccination in the UK with deaths and hospitalisation far lower than earlier peaks there, practically all the sequenced cases in the UK have been the Delta variant and it is now clear that this is the main variant that is causing problems in many countries."

He said in Fiji, an average of 1000 new cases have been reported daily in the week to 14 July, and more than 14,000 active cases there.

"There is considerable work being done to vaccinate the population there," he said.

Medsafe this afternoon is putting up an alert about a rare event for younger people - particularly younger men under 30 - of an autoimmune response. It outlines there have been very rare reports of myocarditis and pericarditis - inflammation of the heart muscle and the membrane that surrounds the heart - after the second dose of the vaccine.

He said the alert is to make sure health professionals are aware of the signs and symptoms, and vaccinated individuals should seek immediate medical attention if they experience chest pain or shortness of breath.

It is a result of the strong immune response of young people, and Bloomfield said he had sought more advice on the rollout of the vaccine to 12-15 year olds.

Hipkins said he expected MIQ will still be required for the rest of this year and probably at least into early next year.

He said the government may consider alternative isolation options such as isolating at home instead of in MIQ. The government is getting advice on these things "all of the time", he said.

A vaccine passport could help with testing as well as managing travel, he said.

"It is certainly possible that we will see that happen before the end of the year but what that means in terms of our MIQ arrangements, that will take longer to work through."

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