1 Sep 2021

Covid-19 vaccine update: 3.5 million doses given in New Zealand

2:43 pm on 1 September 2021

Almost 70 percent of the eligible population have received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine or have booked to have one, says Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins.

Hipkins and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield have spoken to media about the latest in the Delta outbreak.

Watch the briefing here:

Hipkins said about 1.9 million future vaccinations are in the booking system at the moment, and 68 percent of New Zealanders aged 12+ - and 83 percent of those aged over 40 - have had a vaccination or are booked in for at least one vaccination.

About half of the eligible population have now received one dose of the vaccine, with 3.5 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine now administered - 2.29 million first doses and 1.21 million second doses.

There were almost 85,000 doses given yesterday.

Auckland has been a big focus on vaccinations, he said, and over the next few weeks he is assuring that Auckland will remain a priority.

Dr Bloomfield said the rates of vaccination in Māori and Pacific people has doubled in the past few weeks. "It's important and it's a huge focus for our team."

Hipkins said the government was seeing what it could do to increase vaccine supply in the meantime, and said in the meantime use of existing supply will be focused on Auckland. He said if needed, places like walk-in clinics may be reduced around the rest of the country.

Covid 19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins, and Director-General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield hold the 1pm Covid Update in the Beehive Theatrette at Parliament.

Chris Hipkins at today's briefing Photo: Pool / Stuff

Changes to MIQ booking system

Hipkins also spoke about the managed isolation system, saying it has been under pressure in recent weeks, but staff had done an incredible job of it.

He said two further facilities are being changed to quarantine facilities, including the Holiday Inn at Auckland Airport. Work on ventilation at isolation facilities across the country are at various stages across the network, with things including clearing dust out of the ducts and improving the airflow, or upgrading the filtration systems. He said every one of the facilities is different.

The Crowne Plaza remains out of use for now. Officials are also in the process of refurbishing two further MIQ hotels so they can be used to isolate positive community Covid-19 cases, which is putting further pressure on the MIQ network, Hipkins said.

MIQ vouchers for people wanting to return from overseas won't be available for another couple of weeks. Emergency MIQ room allocation will still be available.

"There will be more vouchers released before the end of the year, but clearly there is a lot of demand."

He acknowledged that it is challenging for New Zealanders overseas, and called on them to be patient. He asked people who want to come back to New Zealand for a summer holiday to hold off and leave MIQ spots for people wanting to return home permanently.

He said the booking system will operate differently to how it worked previously. Along with announcing when bookings are coming up, they will be introducing a virtual lobby system which removes the need to be the fastest person to hit the button.

Once bookings have been taken, people will be informed if they have missed out and the lobby will close, he said.

Hipkins also said police were seeing very good compliance at the Auckland border, although a very small number of people have been turned around.

More than 3300 companies have been granted exemptions to travel the border, covering 23,500 employees.

Hipkins said under alert level 4 plumbers, electricians and other tradespeople can continue to carry out work if they are wearing appropriate PPE and following safe guidelines.

He said the government is working on more rapid and regular forms of testing for people who regularly have to travel across the Auckland border, such as truck drivers.

Bloomfield this morning said more room is being made for Covid-19 patients in two Auckland hospitals, and although the number of Covid-19 positive patients was likely to bounce around for the next few days he was confident the trend would settle soon.

Bloomfield also told Morning Report daily vaccination rates have been high recently, and if vaccine supplies could not match demand the rollout in other areas could be slowed to put Auckland first, a confirmation welcomed by Auckland Mayor Phil Goff.

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