29 Mar 2021

Covid-19: New Zealand needs vaccine target, National says

5:30 am on 29 March 2021

National is calling on the government to set a target of having a least 70 percent of adults vaccinated against Covid-19.

The new Covid 19 vaccination facility in South Auckland

The new Covid 19 vaccination facility in South Auckland Photo: RNZ / Simon Rogers

Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop said New Zealand was one of only a few countries in the OECD that did not have a vaccine target.

"The others are Colombia and Mexico. Almost all countries are setting a vaccination target - usually 70 percent of the adult population - and a date for achieving that target. New Zealand isn't doing this either," he said.

National Party MP Chris Bishop

National's Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop says most countries have a vaccine target and New Zealand needs one too Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Government and ministry officials have previously said they believed having such a target would be "unhelpful" and could risk being a "distraction".

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said earlier this month the target "ultimately is to get as many people vaccinated as possible".

But Bishop said that was not good enough, and an ambitious target was needed to "meaningfully track the progress" of the vaccination campaign.

"Targets exist for the measles and flu vaccines. Not having one for Covid-19 suggests the government doesn't want to be held to account on this.

"If KiwiBuild taught us anything, it's that the Labour Government isn't great at hitting targets. But that shouldn't matter. Our Covid-19 vaccine rollout is too important not to have one," he said.

Bishop was also critical of the slow pace of the rollout to date, and the "lack of transparency".

"Most countries are doing daily or near-daily updates on how many people are being vaccinated. New Zealand has to settle for sporadic updates, randomly announced by Chris Hipkins or Ashley Bloomfield.

Bishop said the Ministry of Health should be publishing near-daily numbers.

"This isn't rocket science - it already happens with testing and tracing," he said.

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